Macarius the Egyptian: The covenant is within, and the battle within Wednesday, Jul 20 2016 

Macarius3The glory of Moses which he had upon his countenance was a figure of the true glory.

For as in that case the Jews were not able to look steadfastly upon the face of Moses (2 Cor. 3:7), so now Christians receive that glory of light in their souls, and the darkness, not bearing the radiance of the light, is blinded and banished.

They were made known to be the people of God by circumcision; here, God’s peculiar people receive the sign of circumcision inwardly in their heart.

The heavenly knife cuts away the unwanted portion of the mind, which is the impure uncircumcision of sin.

With them was a baptism sanctifying the flesh; with us, a baptism of Holy Ghost and fire, for this is what John preached: He shall baptize you with Holy Ghost and fire (Matt. 3:11).

There they had an outer tabernacle and an inner, and into the first the priests went continually, accomplishing the services; but into the second went the high priest alone once every year, with blood, the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest (Hebrews 9:6ff).

Here, on the other hand, those who have the privilege enter into the tabernacle not made with hands, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Christ (Heb. 6:20).

It is written in the law that the priest should take two doves, and kill the one, and sprinkle the living one with its blood, and loose it and let it fly free.

That which was done was a figure and shadow of the truth; for Christ was slain, and His blood sprinkling us has made us to grow wings, for He has given us the wings of the Holy Ghost, that we may fly without hindrance into the air of the Godhead.

To them was given a law written upon tables of stone; but to us, spiritual laws, engraven upon fleshy tables of the heart (2 Cor. 3:3) for it says, I will put My laws in their hearts, and upon their minds will I write them (Heb. 10:16).

All those things were temporary and to be done away; but now all are accomplished in truth on the inner man.

The covenant is within, and the battle within. In short, whatsoever things happened unto them were done in a figure, and were written for our admonition (1 Cor. 10:11).

Macarius the Egyptian (c. 300-391) [attributed]: Spiritual Homily 47, 1-3, trans. by A.J. Mason DD.

Cyril of Jerusalem: Having his body and blood in our members, we become bearers of Christ and sharers in the divine nature Saturday, May 28 2016 

Cyril-of-JerusalemOn the night he was betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ took bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said: ‘Take, eat: this is my body.’

He took the cup, gave thanks and said: ‘Take, drink: this is my blood.’

Since Christ himself has declared the bread to be his body, who can have any further doubt?

Since he himself has said quite categorically, This is my blood, who would dare to question it and say that it is not his blood?

Therefore it is with complete assurance that we receive the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ.

His body is given to us under the symbol of bread, and his blood is given to us under the symbol of wine, in order to make us by receiving them one body and one blood with him.

Having his body and blood in our members, we become bearers of Christ and sharers, as Saint Peter says, in the divine nature.

Once when speaking to the Jews Christ said: Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you shall have no life in you. This so horrified them that they left him. Not understanding his words in a spiritual way, they thought the Saviour wished them to practise cannibalism.

Under the old covenant there was showbread, but it came an end with the old dispensation to which it belonged.

Under the new covenant there is bread from heaven and the cup of salvation. These sanctify both soul and body, the bread being adapted to the sanctification of the body, the Word to the sanctification of the soul.

Do not, then, regard the Eucharistic elements as ordinary bread and wine: they are in fact the body and blood of the Lord, as he himself has declared. Whatever your senses may tell you, be strong in faith.

You have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the body and the blood of Christ.

You know also how David referred to this long ago when he sang: Bread strengthens the heart and makes the face glow with the oil of gladness.

Strengthen your heart, then, by receiving this bread as spiritual bread, and bring joy to the face of your soul.

May purity of conscience remove the veil from the face of your soul so that by contemplating the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror, you may be transformed from glory to glory in Christ Jesus our Lord. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechesis 22, 1, 3-6 (PG 33:1087-1091); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Easter Friday, Year 2.

Irenaeus of Lyons: These blessings made man glorious, giving him what he lacked – friendship with God Friday, Feb 26 2016 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonIn Deuteronomy Moses says to the people, The Lord Your God made a covenant with you in Horeb, not with your fathers did the Lord make this covenant but with you.

Why did the Lord not make the covenant with your fathers? Because The Law is not laid down for the just.

Your fathers lived just lives because they had the meaning of the decalogue implanted in their hearts and minds – ­that is, they loved God, who made them, and they did their neighbour no injury.

So they did not need to be warned by written prohibitions; for they had the righteous­ness of the Law in their hearts.

When, however, in Egypt this righteousness and this love towards God were forgotten and became extinct, God was compelled by his deep love towards men to reveal himself by a voice.

With power he led his people out of Egypt, so that man again might become the disciple of God and follow him. So that they might not despise their creator, he punished those who were disobedient. He fed them with manna so that they might have spiritual food.

[…] He taught them to love God, and instilled in them that righteousness which is towards their neighbour. By the Decalogue he instructed men to be friends with himself and in harmony with their neighbour.

Man is greatly helped by these things. God, however, stands in need of nothing from man.These blessings made man glorious, giving him what he lacked: friendship with God. They bestowed nothing on God, for God did not stand in need of man’s love.

Man did not have the glory of God. The only way that man could receive this glory was by obeying God. There­fore Moses said, Choose life that you and your descend­ants may live, loving the Lord your God and obeying his voice and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days.

To prepare man for this life, God himself spoke the words of the Decalogue, to all men alike. And so these words remain with us too.

[…] By the new covenant of liberty God cancelled those provisions which he had given to his people to enslave them and serve the purpose of a sign. At the same time the laws, which are natural and appropriate to free men and are applicable to all without distinction, were amplified and widened.

Out of the abundance of his love, without grudging, God adopted men as his sons, and granted that they might know God as Father and love him with all their heart, and follow his Word without turning aside.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses 4.16.2-5); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Saturday after Ash Wednesday, Year 1.

Leo the Great: “I will put My laws in their minds, and in their heart will I write them” Thursday, Sep 17 2015 

leo1[On the Beatitudes: Matthew 5:1-9].

When our Lord Jesus Christ, beloved, was preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and was healing divers sicknesses through the whole of Galilee, the fame of His mighty works had spread into all Syria.

Large crowds too from all parts of Judæa were flocking to the heavenly Physician (cf. Matt. 4:23-24).

For as human ignorance is slow in believing what it does not see, and in hoping for what it does not know, those who were to be instructed in the divine lore, needed to be aroused by bodily benefits and visible miracles.

This was so that they might have no doubt as to the wholesomeness of His teaching when they actually experienced His benignant power.

And therefore, that the Lord might use outward healings as an introduction to inward remedies, and after healing bodies might work cures in the soul, He separated Himself from the surrounding crowd, ascended into the retirement of a neighbouring mountain, and called His apostles to Him there.

This He did in order that from the height of that mystic seat He might instruct them in the loftier doctrines, signifying from the very nature of the place and act that He it was who had once honoured Moses by speaking to him:  then indeed with a more terrifying justice, but now with a holier mercifulness, that what had been promised might be fulfilled when the Prophet Jeremiah says:

“behold the days come when I will complete a new covenant for the house of Israel and for the house of Judah.  After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My laws in their minds, and in their heart will I write them” (Jer. 31:31-33; cf. Heb. 8:8–12).

He therefore who had spoken to Moses, spoke also to the apostles, and the swift hand of the Word wrote and deposited the secrets of the new covenant in the disciples’ hearts.

There were no thick clouds surrounding Him as of old, nor were the people frightened off from approaching the mountain by frightful sounds and lightning (cf. Heb. 12:18ff), but quietly and freely His discourse reached the ears of those who stood by, so that the harshness of the law might give way before the gentleness of grace, and “the spirit of adoption” might dispel the terrors of bondage (cf. Rom. 8:15).

The nature then of Christ’s teaching is attested by His own holy statements:  that they who wish to arrive at eternal blessedness may understand the steps of ascent to that high happiness.  “Blessed,” He saith, “are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 95, 1-2.

Jean Daniélou: The Realities of the Old Testament are Figures of Those of the New Wednesday, May 7 2014 

JeanDanielouSJThat the realities of the Old Testament are figures of those of the New is one of the principles of  biblical theology.

This science of the similitudes between the two Testaments is called typology.

And here we would do well to remind ourselves of its foundation, for this is to be found in the Old Testament itself.

At the time of the Captivity, the prophets announced to the people of Israel that in the future God would perform for their benefit deeds analogous to, and even greater than those He had performed in the past.

So there would be a new Deluge, in which the sinful world would be annihilated, and a few men, a “remnant,” would be preserved to inaugurate a new humanity;

there would be a new Exodus in which, by His power, God would set mankind free from its bondage to idols; there would be a new Paradise into which God would introduce the people He had redeemed.

These prophecies constitute a primary typology that might be called eschatological, for the prophets saw these future events as happening at the end of time.

The New Testament, therefore, did not invent typology, but simply showed that it was fulfilled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. With Jesus, in fact, these events of the end, of the fullness of time, are now accomplished.

He is the New Adam with whom the time of the Paradise of the future has begun. In Him is already realized that destruction of the sinful world of which the Flood was the figure. In Him is accomplished the true Exodus which delivers the people of God from the tyranny of the demon.

Typology was used in the preaching of the apostles as an argument to establish the truth of their message, by showing that Christ continues and goes beyond the Old Testament: “Now all these things happened to them as a type and, they were written for our correction” (I Cor. 10, 11). This is what St. Paul calls the consolatio Scripturarum (Rom. 15, 4).

But these eschatological times are not only those of the life of Jesus, but of the Church as well. Consequently, the eschatological typology of the Old Testament is accomplished not only in the person of Christ, but also in the Church.

Besides Christological typology, therefore, there exists a sacramental typology, and we find it in the New Testament. The Gospel of St. John shows us that the manna was a figure of the Eucharist; the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians that the crossing of the Red Sea was a figure of Baptism; the first Epistle of St. Peter that the Flood was also a figure of Baptism.

Jean Daniélou, S.J. (1905 – 1974):  The Bible and the Liturgy, Liturgical Studies, 3 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1956), pp. 1-2.

Hilarion Troitsky: It was the Incarnation of the Son of God that was Necessary for the Salvation of Mankind, and not a Book Sunday, Jan 26 2014 

Hilarion_TroitskyThe Sunday nearest January 25th (new calendar) is the feast of the Holy New Martyrs of Russia, one of whom was Hilarion Troitsky.

In the Church there are no stone tablets with letters inscribed by a Divine finger.

The Church has the Holy Scriptures, but He Who established the Church wrote nothing.

[…] And yet the Church has Scripture, which is called by her Holy and Divine. Christ did not write anything.

It seems that if one reflects enough on this fact, one can somewhat understand the very essence of the work of Christ.

As a rule, other religious leaders of humanity, founders of various philosophical schools, have written readily and in abundance, and yet Christ wrote nothing at all.

Does not this mean that in its essence the work of Christ has nothing in common with the work of any of the philosophers, teachers, or leading representatives of the intellectual life of mankind?

Furthermore, has the Church herself ever viewed her Founder as one of the teachers of mankind? Has she ever considered His teachings as the essence of His work?

No, with the utmost exertion of her theological strength, the Christian Church has defended as the greatest religious truth that Christ is the Only-begotten Son of God, One in essence with God the Father, Who became incarnate on earth.

For that truth, the greatest Fathers of the Church labored to the point of blood. They were unbending in the battle for this truth.

They did not yield a single inch to their adversaries, literarlly not even a single iota, which in the Greek language differentiates homoiousion, ”of similar essence,” from homoousion, “coessential.”

“Those who call these men [i.e., Arians] Christians are in great and grievous error,” writes St. Athanasius the Great.

Thus did this adamant of Orthodoxy argue definitively about the impossibility of being a Christian while denying the Incarnation of the Son of God, Who is coessential with God the Father. 

But was the Incarnation of the Only-begotten Son of God necessary only in order to write a book and entrust it to mankind?

Was it absolutely essential for Him to be the Only-begotten Son of God just to write a book?

If the Church insisted with such determination on the Divine dignity of her Founder, then obviously she did not regard writing to be the essence of His work.

It was the Incarnation of the Son of God that was necessary for the salvation of mankind, and not a book.

No book is able, nor could it ever have been able to save mankind. Christ is not the Teacher but precisely the Savior of mankind.

It was necessary to regenerate human nature, which had become decayed through sin, and the beginning of this regeneration was laid by the very Incarnation of the Son of God—not by His teaching, not by the books of the New Testament.

Hilarion Troitsky (1886-1929; Russian Orthodox): Holy Scripture and the Church (1914), translated by Igor Radev in The Orthodox Word № 264-265 @ Pravoslavie.

Aphrahat the Persian: When Our Life-Giver Came He Showed the Eagerness of Love Tuesday, Jan 21 2014 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatSurely, beloved, all the law and the prophets depend upon the two commandments, as our Saviour said:

“The law and the prophets are too little to convince him who will not be persuaded.”

Therefore our Saviour said: “On these two commandments hang the law and the prophets,” that is:

“A man shall love the Lord His God with all his soul, and with all his might, and with all his substance”; and that a man also “shall love his neighbor as himself.”

[…] In what was said before in my earlier discourse concerning faith, I have shown that this covenant in which we are established is founded upon faith.

Now in this second discourse…I have reminded you that all the law and the prophets depend upon two commandments – those which our Saviour spoke – and in these two commandments are included all the law and the prophets.

And in the law faith is included, and by faith true love is established, which is from those two commandments, that after a man loves the Lord his God he shall cherish his neighbor as himself.

Now hear, beloved, concerning the love which is produced from those two commandments.

For when our Life-giver came He showed the eagerness of love, for He said to His disciples: “This is My commandment that ye love one another.”

And again He said to them: “A new commandment I give you, that ye love one another.”

And again, when making clear concerning love, thus He warned them: “Love your enemies, and bless him who curses you; pray for those who deal hardly with you and persecute you.”

And this again He said to them: “If ye love him who loves you what is your reward? For if thou lovest him who loves thee thus also do the Gentiles, who loves them they love him.”

Again our Life-giver said: “If ye do good to him who does good unto you what is your reward? thus also do the publicans and sinners. But ye, because ye are called sons of God who is in heaven, be ye like Him who showeth mercy also upon those who renounce goodness.”

Again our Saviour said: “Forgive, and it shall be forgiven you; loose, and ye shall loosed; give, and it shall be given you.”

Again He spoke and put fear in us: “Unless ye forgive men who sin against you their sins, neither will the Father forgive you.”

For thus He warned and said: “If thy brother shall sin against thee, forgive him; and even if he shall sin against thee seven times in one day, forgive him.”

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 2 – On Love (1; 11; 12). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).

Augustine of Hippo: God Promised Men Divinity, Mortals Immortality, Sinners Justification, Outcasts Glory Thursday, Dec 12 2013 

St Augustine of AfricaGod had a time for making his promises and a time for fulfilling them.

His time for making promises was from the days of the prophets until the coming of John the Baptist.

His time for fulfilling them was from then until the end of the world. God is faithful and he has put himself in our debt, not by receiving anything from us but by promising so much.

Nor was a promise sufficient for him; he even bound himself in writing, giving us as it were a pledge in his own hand.

He wanted us to see from Scripture, when the time for fulfilment came, how he was carrying out his promises one by one.

God promised us eternal salvation, everlasting bliss with the angels, an incorruptible inheritance, endless glory, the joyful vision of his face, his holy dwelling in heaven, and after the resurrection from the dead no further fear of dying.

This is what he holds out to us at the end as the goal of all our striving. When we reach it we shall ask for nothing more. But as to how we are to reach our final goal, he revealed this too by promises and prophecies.

God promised men divinity, mortals immortality, sinners justification, outcasts glory.

But because his promise that we who are mortal, corruptible, weak and of low estate, mere dust and ashes, were to be equal to the angels seemed incredible, God not only made a written covenant with us to win our faith, but he also gave us a mediator of his pledge.

This mediator was not a prince, an angel, or an archangel, but his only Son; through his own Son he meant both to show us and give us the way by which he would lead us to the promised goal.

He was not satisfied with sending his Son to show us the way. He made him the way itself. God’s only Son, then, was to come among us, take our human nature, and in this nature be born as a man.

He was to die, to rise again, to ascend into heaven, to sit at the right hand of the Father, and to fulfil his promises among the nations.

After that he was also to fulfil his promise to come again, to demand what he had previously requested, to separate those deserving his anger from those deserving his mercy, to give the wicked what he had threatened and the just what he had promised.

All this had to be prophesied, foretold, and impressed on us as an event in the future so that we should not be terrified by its happening unexpectedly, but wait for it with faith.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Commentary on Psalm 109, 1-3 (CSEL 40:1601-1603); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Thursday of the 2nd Week in Advent, Year 1.

Andrew of Crete: The birth of Mary and the deification of man Sunday, Sep 8 2013 

AndrewofcreteSeptember 8th is the Feast of the Birth of the Virgin Mary

The present day solemnity is a line of demarcation, separating the truth from its prefigurative symbol, and ushering in the new in place of the old.

Paul – that Divine Trumpeter of the Spirit – exclaims thus about this: “For anyone that be in Christ, ye are remade a new creature; the old passeth away and behold all is become new” (2 Cor 5:17);

“for the law hath perfected nothing adducing for a better hope, whereby we draw nigh to God” (Heb 7:19). The truth of grace hath shown forth brightly.

Let there now be one common festal celebration in both heaven and on earth. Let everything now celebrate, that which is in the world and that beyond the world.

Now is made the created temple for the Creator of all; and creation is readied into a new Divine habitation for the Creator.

Now our nature having been banished from the land of blessedness doth receive the principle of theosis [deification], and doth strive to rise up to the highest glory.

Now Adam doth offer from us and for us elements unto God, the most worthy fruit of mankind – Mary, in Whom the new Adam is rendered Bread for the restoration of the human race.

Now is opened the great bosom of virginity, and the Church, in the matrimonial manner, doth place upon it a pure pearl truly immaculate.

Now human worthiness doth accept the gift of the first creation and returns to its former condition.

Man’s majesty had been darkened by formless sin. Now, through the conjoining by His Mother by birth “of Him made beautiful by Goodness,” man receives beauty in a most excellent and God-seemly visage.

And this creating is done truly by the creation, and recreation by theosis, and theosis by a return to the original perfection!

Now a barren one is become beyond expectation a mother, and the Birth-giver hath given birth without knowing man, and she doth sanctify natural birth.

Now is readied the majestied color of the Divine scarlet-purple and the impoverished human nature is clothed in royal worthiness.

Now – according to prophecy – there sprouts forth the Offshoot of David, Who, having eternally become the green-sprouting Staff of Aaron, hath blossomed forth for us with the Staff of Power — Christ.

Now of Judah and David is descended a Virgin Maiden, rendering of herself the royal and priestly worthiness of Him that hath taken on the priesthood of Aaron in the order of Melchisedek (Heb 7:15).

Now is begun the renewal of our nature, and the world responding, assuming a God-seemly form, doth receive the principle of a second Divine creation.

Andrew of Crete (c.650-740[?]): Oration 1 – Homily on the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God; translation of complete homily @ Mystagogy.

John Chrysostom: God on Earth, Man in Heaven; Angels Joined the Choirs of Men, Men had Fellowship with the Angels Saturday, Aug 3 2013 

John_ChrysostomFollowing on from here…

How then was that law given in time past, and when, and where?

After the destruction of the Egyptians, in the wilderness, on Mount Sinai, when smoke and fire were rising up out of the mountain, a trumpet sounding, thunders and lightnings, and Moses entering into the very depth of the cloud.

But in the new covenant not so—neither in a wilderness, nor in a mountain, nor with smoke and darkness and cloud and tempest; but at the beginning of the day, in a house, while all were sitting together, with great quietness, all took place.

For to those, being more unreasonable, and hard to guide, there was need of outward pomp, as of a wilderness, a mountain, a smoke, a sound of trumpet, and the other like things.

But these things were not necessary  to those who were of a higher character, and submissive, and who had risen above mere corporeal imaginations.

For the new covenant was removal of punishment, and remission of sins, and “righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” and adoption, and an inheritance of Heaven, and a relationship unto the Son of God, which He came declaring unto all: to enemies, to the perverse, to them that were sitting in darkness.

What then could ever be equal to these good tidings?

These good tidings were of God on earth, man in Heaven; and all became mingled together, angels joined the choirs of men, men had fellowship with the angels, and with the other powers above.

And one might see the long war brought to an end, and reconciliation made between God and our nature, the devil brought to shame, demons in flight, death destroyed, Paradise opened, the curse blotted out, sin put out of the way.

One might see error driven off, truth returning, the word of godliness everywhere sown, and flourishing in its growth, the polity of those above planted on the earth, those powers in secure intercourse with us, and on earth angels continually haunting, and hope abundant touching things to come.

Therefore he has called the history good tidings [i.e. “gospel”], forasmuch as all other things surely are words only without substance; as, for instance, plenty of wealth, greatness of power, kingdoms, and glories, and honors, and whatever other things among men are accounted to be good.

But those which are published by the fishermen would be legitimately and properly called good tidings: not only as being sure and immoveable blessings, and beyond our deserts, but also as being given to us with all facility.

For not by laboring and sweating, not by fatigue and suffering, but merely as being beloved of God, we received what we have received.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on the Gospel According to St Matthew, 1, 3.

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