Athanasius of Alexandria: If we follow Christ closely we shall be allowed, even on this earth, to stand as it were on the threshold of the heavenly Jerusalem Tuesday, Mar 15 2016 

AthanasiusOur Lord Jesus Christ…has come among us as our feast and holy day as well.

The blessed Apostle says of him who was awaited: “Christ has been sacrificed as our Passover.”

It was Christ who shed his light on the psalmist as he prayed: “You are my joy, deliver me from those surrounding me.”

True joy, genuine festival, means the casting out of wickedness.

To achieve this one must live a life of perfect goodness and, in the serenity of the fear of God, practise contemplation in one’s heart.

This was the way of the saints, who in their lifetime and at every stage of life rejoiced as at a feast.

Blessed David, for example, not once but seven times rose at night to win God’s favour through prayer.

The great Moses was full of joy as he sang God’s praises in hymns of victory for the defeat of Pharaoh and the oppressors of the Hebrew people.

Others had hearts filled always with gladness as they performed their sacred duty of worship, like the great Samuel and the blessed Elijah.

Because of their holy lives they gained freedom, and now keep festival in heaven. They rejoice after their pilgrimage in shadows, and now distinguish the reality from the promise.

When we celebrate the feast in our own day, what path are we to take? As we draw near to this feast, who is to be our guide?

Beloved, it must be none other than the one whom you will address with me as our Lord Jesus Christ. He says: “I am the way.” As blessed John tells us: it is Christ “who takes away the sin of the world.”

It is he who purifies our souls, as the prophet Jeremiah says: “Stand upon the ways; look and see which is the good path, and you will find in it the way of amendment for your souls.”

In former times the blood of goats and the ashes of a calf were sprinkled on those who were unclean, but they were able to purify only the body. Now through the grace of God’s Word everyone is made abundantly clean.

If we follow Christ closely we shall be allowed, even on this earth, to stand as it were on the threshold of the heavenly Jerusalem, and enjoy the contemplation of that everlasting feast, like the blessed apostles, who in following the Saviour as their leader, showed, and still show, the way to obtain the same gift from God.

They said: “See, we have left all things and followed you.” We too follow the Lord, and we keep his feast by deeds rather than by words.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): Letter 14, 1-2 from the Office of Readings, 5th Sunday of Lent @ Universalis.

Basil the Great: “The streams of the river make the city of God joyful” Tuesday, Jun 23 2015 

St-Basil-the-Great‘The streams of the river make the city of God joyful’ (Psalm 45:5).

The briny seawaters, being exceedingly disturbed by the winds, roar and are troubled, but the streams of the river, proceeding noiselessly and flowing in silence to those worthy of receiving them, make the city of God joyful.

And now the just man drinks the living water and later will drink more plentifully, when he has been enrolled as a citizen in the city of God.

Now he drinks through a mirror and in an obscure manner (1 Cor. 13:12) because of his gradual perception of the divine objects of contemplation; but then he will welcome at once the flooded river, which is able to overwhelm all the city of God with joy.

Who could be the river of God except the Holy Spirit, who comes into those worthy because of the faith of the believers in Christ?

‘He who believes in me, as the Scripture says, “From within him there shall flow rivers”’ (John 7:38). And again, ‘If anyone drinks of the water which I give, it will become in him a fountain of water, springing up unto life everlasting’ (John 4:13-14).

This river, accordingly, makes all the city of God at once joyful, that is to say surely, the Church of those who hold to a heavenly manner of life. Or, every creature endowed with intelligence, from celestial powers even to human souls, must be understood as the city made joyful by the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

Some give the definition that a city is an established community, administered according to law. And, the definition that has been handed down of the city is in harmony with the celestial city, Jerusalem above.

For, there it is a community of the first-born who have been enrolled in heaven (cf Heb. 12:23), and this is established because of the unchanging manner of life of the saints, and it is administered according to the heavenly law.

Therefore, it is not the privilege of human nature to learn the arrangement of that city and all its adornment. Those are the things ‘Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love him’ (1 Cor. 2:9),  but there are myriads of angels there, and an assembly of saints, and a Church of the first-born that are enrolled in heaven.

[…] Therefore, having raised the eyes of your soul, seek, in a manner worthy of things above, what pertains to the city of God…which the river of God makes joyful.

Basil the Great (330-379): Homily 18 (on Psalm 45[46]), 4,  from Saint Basil: Exegetic Homilies, translated by Agnes Clare Way, Catholic University of America Press (The Fathers of the Church, vol. 46), pp. 302-303.

John Damascene: Feast of the Dormition – Christ the New Solomon and Mary the True Ark Thursday, Aug 15 2013 

John-of-Damascus_01What of those who watched by the most holy and all-holy body of God’s Mother?

In loving reverence and with tears of joy they gathered round the blessed and divine tabernacle, embracing every member, and were filled with holiness and thanksgiving.

Then illnesses were cured, and demons were put to flight and banished to the regions of darkness.

The air and atmosphere and heavens were sanctified by her passage through them, the earth by the burial of her body.

[…] Sinners who approached with faith blotted out the handwriting against them.

Then the holy body is wrapped in a snow-white winding-sheet, and the queen is again laid, upon her bed.

Then follow lights and incense and hymns, and angels singing as befits the solemnity; apostles and patriarchs acclaiming her in inspired song.

When the Ark of God, departing from Mount Sion for the heavenly country, was borne on the shoulders of the Apostles, it was placed on the way in the tomb.

First it was taken through the city, as a bride dazzling with spiritual radiance, and then carried to the sacred place of Gethsemane, angels overshadowing it with their wings, going before, accompanying, and following it, together with the whole assembly of the Church.

King Solomon compelled all the elders of Israel in Sion to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the city of David, that is Sion, to rest in the temple of the Lord, which he had built, and the priests took the ark and the tabernacle of the testimony, and the priests and levites raised it.

And the king and all the people sacrificed numberless oxen and sheep before the ark. And the priests carried in the ark of the testimony of God into its place, into the Holy of Holies, beneath the wings of the cherubim.

So is it now with the dwelling-place of the true ark, no longer of the testimony, but the very substance of God the Word.

The new Solomon, the Prince of peace, the Creator of all things in the heavens and on the earth, assembled together to-day the supporters of the new covenant, that is the Apostles, with all the people of the saints in Jerusalem, brought in her soul through angels to the true Holy of Holies, under the wings of the four living creatures, and set her on His throne within the Veil, where Christ Himself had preceded her.

Her body the while is borne by the Apostles’ hands, the King of Kings covering her with the splendour of His invisible Godhead, the whole assembly of the saints preceding her, with sacred song and sacrifice of praise until through the tomb it was placed in the delights of Eden, the heavenly tabernacles.

John Damascene (c.675-749): Homily 2 on the Dormition of the Theotokos @ Medieval Sourcebook.

Macarius the Egyptian: Labouring to enter the heavenly Jerusalem Friday, Jun 14 2013 

Macarius3How should we be anything but serpents, we who are not found in obedience to God, but in the disobedience which came by the serpent?

How to bewail the calamity as it deserves, I cannot find.

How to cry aloud and weep to Him that is able to expel the error lodged within me, I do not know.

How shall I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

How shall I lament for Jerusalem? How shall I flee from the grievous bondage of Pharaoh?

How am I to quit the foul place of sojourn? How can I deny the bitter tyranny? How can I get out of the land of Egypt?

How can I cross the Red Sea? how pass the great wilderness? how escape perishing from the bite of serpents? how conquer the aliens?

How shall I utterly destroy the heathen within me? How shall I receive the oracles of the law of God upon these tables of mine?

How shall I see the true pillar of light, and of the cloud proceeding from the Holy Ghost?

How shall I enjoy the manna of eternal delight? how drink the water from the life-giving rock? How am I to pass over Jordan, entering into the good land of promise?

How am I to see the Captain of the Lord’s host, whom Joshua the son of Nun, when he saw Him, immediately fell down and worshipped?

Unless I go through all this and destroy the heathen within me, I cannot go into the sanctuary of God and rest, nor become a partaker of the glory of the King.

Therefore labour to become a child of God without fault, and to enter into that rest, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Christ.

Labour to be enrolled in the church in heaven with the firstborn that you may be found at the right hand of the majesty of the Most High. Labour to enter into the holy city, the Jerusalem that is at peace, that is above, above all, where also is Paradise.

You have no other way to be admitted to these wonderful and blessed types, unless you pour out tears day and night, like him who says Every night wash I my bed, and water my couch with my tears.

You know well that they that sow in tears shall reap in joy. The prophet says boldly Hold not Thy peace at my tears.

[…] For the tear that is really shed out of much affliction and anguish of heart in the knowledge of the truth, with burning of the inward parts, is indeed a food of the soul.

Macarius the Egyptian (c. 300-391) [attributed]: Spiritual Homily 25,6-8, trans. by A.J. Mason DD.

Augustine of Hippo: We Must Prepare Our Hearts for the Future Life Saturday, Jun 1 2013 

St Augustine of AfricaIf our hope in Christ is for this life only, of all mankind we are the most wretched.

There is, then, another life. Gaze with the eyes of faith on the future life.

For the sake of the future life you believed and were signed with the sign of Christ.

He lived an earthly life in order to show you how lightly you should esteem the life you used to love, and how earnestly you should hope for the life in which you used to disbelieve.

Rouse your faith and turn the eyes of faith to the last things and the world to come, where we shall rejoice after the Lord’s Second Coming, after the Judgment, after the kingdom has been delivered to the saints.

Think of that life and that life’s leisure, beloved. Our life then will not be storm-tossed. It will be a life of leisure, a leisure full of nothing but pleasantness.

There will be no vexations to disturb us, no fatigue to tire us, no storm clouds to trouble us.

What will be our occupation in that life? To praise God, to love and to praise: to praise by loving, and to love by praising.

Blessed are they who dwell in your house: they shall praise you forever and ever.

Why, if not because they shall love you forever and ever? Why, if not because they shall gaze upon you forever and ever?

If we remember that we are members of the Saviour, if we yearn and persevere, we shall see and rejoice.

The citizens of that city will all be purified, and none there will be subversive or disturbers of the peace.

The enemy who now hinders us from reaching that home­land can lay no snares for anyone there, for entrance is denied him.

If he is now barred from the breasts of believers, how much more will he not be barred from the city of the living?

My brethren, I ask you, what will it be like in that city, when it is such a joy even to speak of it now?

We must prepare our hearts for that future life.

Those who do so are detached from everything in this present life, and this detachment enables them to look forward with confidence to that day which the Lord bade us await with fear and trembling.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Commentary on Psalm 147, 3 (CCL 40:2140-2141; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Monday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1.

Rupert of Deutz: That Love which is the Holy Spirit is the Life of the Holy Angels and of All Saintly Souls Tuesday, May 7 2013 

Rupert_von_Deutz_-_Federzeichnung_Codec_lat._11355The angel showed me a river of life-giving water, clear as crystal, issuing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, and flowing down the centre of the city street.

On both banks of the river grew the tree of life, bearing its fruit twelve times a year, one crop for each month. The leaves of that tree are destined for the healing of the nations.

The river here depicted is none other than the torrent of gladness and joy described in one of the psalms as the fast­-flowing river that gladdens the City of God, the river of which another psalm proclaims:

They shall be filled with the abundance of your house, O Lord, and you will give them water from the flowing stream of your delights.

The same figurative language was used by Isaiah to console the people of Jerusalem.

Thus says the Lord, he announced, I will make peace flow over her like a river; the wealth of the nations shall pour into her like a torrent in full spate.

The river of John’s vision, therefore, represents the Lord. More specifically, we can see in it an image of the Holy Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit who is the river of peace, the torrent of wealth, the river of gladness, the flowing stream of delight, and the abundance of God’s house.

For he is himself the love that unites bride and Bridegroom in the city of glory and constitutes the entire happiness of all who live there.

That love which is the Holy Spirit is the life of the holy angels and of all saintly souls. Consequently the river shown to John by the angel is called a river of life-giving water.

Because its water imparts light and strength it is said to be clear as crystal. This is a beautiful comparison. Crystal is a substance which is translucent yet very durable, qualities which we ourselves shall possess in the life of glory.

Our minds will be wholly irradiated with the divine light, and our bodies will gain a crystalline strength through the gift of blessed immortality in that state of eternal happiness where there will be no more dying.

Now we know that in the Gospel of Saint John our Lord speaks of the procession of the Holy Spirit. When the Advocate comes whom I shall send you, he says, the Spirit of Truth who issues from the Father.

Nor does John neglect that teaching in the Apocalypse. In fact, he affirms it precisely in this very passage, where he tells us that the river issues from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Rupert of Deutz (c.1075–1129): In Apoc. 22 (PL 169:1206); from the Monastic Office of Vigils for Friday of the 5th Week in Eastertide, Year 1.

John Damascene: We Celebrate the Death of Death, the Destruction of Hell, the Beginning of Eternal Life Sunday, Apr 21 2013 

John-of-Damascus_01He Who delivered the children from the furnace, and became man and suffered as a mortal, through His suffering, He clothes mortality with the grace of incorruption, He is the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.

The godly wise women came to Thee with myrrh. But Him Whom they sought with tears as dead, they joyfully adored as the living God. And they told to Thy disciples, O Christ, the glad tidings of the mystical Pascha.

We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of hell, the beginning of eternal life. And leaping for joy, we celebrate the Cause, the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.

For a truly holy and a supreme feast is this saving night radiant with Light, the harbinger of the bright day of Resurrection, on which the Eternal Light shone bodily from the grave upon all.

This is the chosen and Holy Day, the first of Sabbaths, the Sovereign and Queen, the Feast of Feasts, and Triumph of Triumphs, on which let us bless Christ forever.

O come, let us partake of the fruit of the new vine of divine joy on the auspicious Day of the Resurrection and Kingdom of Christ, praising Him as God forever.

Cast thine eyes about thee, O Zion, and behold! For lo! Thy children have assembled unto thee from the West and from the North and from the South and from the East, as divinely radiant luminaries, Blessing Christ unto the ages.

Father, Almighty, the Word, and the Spirit, one Nature in three Persons united, transcending essence supremely Divine! In Thee we have been baptized, and Thee will bless us throughout all ages.

Magnify, O my soul, Him Whom suffered willingly and was buried and rose from the grave on the third day.

Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee. Now dance for joy and be glad, O Zion! And thou, pure Mother of God, rejoice in the rising of Him Whom thou didst bear.

Magnify, O my soul, Christ the life-giver, Who rose from the grave on the third day.

Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee. Now dance for joy and be glad, O Zion! And thou, pure Mother of God, rejoice in the rising of Him Whom thou didst bear.

Christ is the New Pascha, the living sacrificial Victim, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.

John Damascene (c.675-749): The Paschal Canon, Odes 7,8,9; trans. Archimandrite Ephrem  Pravoslavie.

Germanus of Constantinople: The Church is an Earthly Heaven… Tuesday, Jan 15 2013 

Germanus of ConstantinopleThe church is the temple of God, a holy place, a house of prayer, the assembly of the people, the body of Christ.

It is called the bride of Christ. It is cleansed by the water of His baptism, sprinkled by His blood, clothed in bridal garments, and sealed with the ointment of the Holy Spirit, according to the prophetic saying:

“Your name is oil poured out” (Cant 1:3), and “We run after the fragrance of your myrrh” (Cant 1:4), which is “Like the precious oil, running down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron” (Ps 132:2 LXX).

The church is an earthly heaven in which the super-celestial God dwells and walks about.

It represents the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Christ: it is glorified more than the tabernacle of the witness of Moses, in which are the mercy-seat and the Holy of Holies.

[…] The apse corresponds to the cave in Bethlehem where Christ was born, as well as the cave in which he was buried, as the evangelist Mark says: “There was a cave hewn out of rock; there they placed Jesus” (cf Mk 15:46).’

The holy table corresponds to the spot in the tomb where Christ was placed. On it lies the true and heavenly bread, the mystical and unbloody sacrifice.

[…] This table was pre-figured by the table of the Old Law upon which the manna, which was Christ, descended from heaven.

[…] The altar corresponds to the holy tomb of Christ.

On it Christ brought Himself as a sacrifice to [His] God and Father through the offering of His body as a sacrificial lamb, and as high priest and Son of Man, offering and being offered as a mystical bloodless sacrifice, and appointing for the faithful reasonable worship, through which we have become sharers in eternal and immortal life.

This lamb Moses prefigured in Egypt “towards evening” when its blood turned back the destroyer so that he would not kill the people (cf Ex 12:7-13).

The expression “towards evening” signifies that towards evening the true lamb is sacrificed, the One who takes away the sin of the world on his cross, “For Christ, our Pascha, has been sacrificed for us” (cf I Cor 5:7).

The altar is and is called the heavenly and spiritual altar, where the earthly and material priests who always assist and serve the Lord represent the spiritual, serving, and hierarchical powers of the immaterial and celestial Powers, for they also must be as a burning fire.

For the Son of God and Judge of all ordained the laws and established the services of both the heavenly and the earthly powers.

Germanus of Constantinople (c.634–c.733): On the Divine Liturgy, 1-6 (Tr based in part on: J. Meyendorff, St. Germanus of Constantinople on the Divine Liturgy Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984: 56-106. ) @ Fr Luke Dysinger, OSB.

A Monk of the Abbey of Bèze: Glorious Things are Said of Thee, City of God! Wednesday, Nov 7 2012 

Continued from here….

What do we have still in common with perishable things, we to whom so much is promised in Heaven?

What could we enjoy on earth in the company of sinners, we who are called to the court of the heavenly host?

What are the pleasures of the flesh to us who ought to bear the image of the celestial?

What do we have to do with the concupiscence of the eyes, we who long to gaze upon the spectacle which is pleasing to the angels?

With worldly ambition, we to whom is promised the possession of Heaven ?

Thus, while like all our fathers, we are guests and strangers, while our days pass by like a shadow over the earth and there is no respite, while the avenging angel, the blinding cloud, the wind of the tempest, and the enveloping fire pass over the earth, let us flee from the darkness of Egypt to the shadow of the wings of God, and stay there until iniquity has passed away, until the day breathes and the shadows bow low, in order to merit being placed in Abraham’s bosom.

There are the true riches, there are the treasures of wisdom, length and joy of life.

There is full force where nothing is weakness, where nothing courageous is lacking.

There is full wisdom where there is no ignorance, where no true understanding is lacking.

There is utmost felicity where there is no adversity, where no goodness is lacking.

There is full health because there is full charity, there is full beatitude because there is full vision of God.

Vision, I say, is in knowledge, knowledge is found in love, love is with praise, and praise finds security and ail this is without end.

Who will give us wings like the dove, and we shall fly across all the kingdoms of this world, and we shall penetrate the depths of the eastern sky?

Who then will conduct us to the city of the great King in order that what we now read in these pages and see only as in a glass, darkly, we may then look upon the face of God present before us, and so rejoice?

City of God! What glorious things have they not said of thee!

In thee is the home of those who are joyous, in thee is the light, and the life of all.

Thy foundation is a single stone, a living cornerstone, uniquely precious.

Thy gates will shine with splendid diamonds. They will be opened wide.

Thy walls will be of precious stones, thy towers gleaming with jewels.

Anonymous Monk of the Benedictine Abbey of Bèze (early 12th century?): Elevations on the Glories of Jerusalem (quoted in Jean Leclercq OSB, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God; A Study of Monastic Culture, ch 45).

A Monk of the Abbey of Bèze: He Is the Golden Altar of the Holy of Holies Monday, May 21 2012 

Continued from here….

Then will be the month of months, and the most glorious of sabbaths.

Then will the light of the moon be like to the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will shine with seven-fold brilliance, and every saint’s face will shine like the sun in the kingdom of his Father.

This city will have no need of the sun’s light; but God the all-Powerful will illumine it.

His torch is the Lamb: the Lamb of God, the Lamb without spot whom the Father sent into the world as a saving victim.

Living without sin, dying for sinners, the Lamb took away the sin of the world, loosed the pains of hell and liberated the prisoners from the lake without water, triumphant before them, and reinstating them in His kingdom by His side.

He is most beautiful in countenance, very desirable to see, He upon whom the Angels desire to gaze.

He is the King of peace, He whose countenance is desired by all the world.

He is the propitiator of sinners, the friend of the poor, the consoler of the afflicted, the guardian of the little ones.

He is the teacher of the childlike, the guide of pilgrims, the redeemer of those who have died, the courageous helper of warriors, the generous rewarder of victors.

He is the golden altar of the Holy of Holies, the place of rest of sons, the spectacle pleasing to the angels.

He is the sublime throne of the supreme Trinity, raised above all, He who is blessed of the ages.

He is the crown of the Saints, the light of all, the light of angels.

O what will we give Him in return for all He has given us?

When shall we be delivered from the body of this death?

When shall we be filled with the abundance of the house of God, seeing the light in His light?

When then will the Christ appear, our life, and shall we be with Him in glory?

When shall we see the Lord God in the lamb of the living, the kindly rewards, the man of peace, the dweller in repose, the consoler of the afflicted?

When shall we see the first-born of the dead, the joy of the Resurrection, the man of the right hand of God, He whom the Father has established?

He is the Son of God, chosen from among thousands.

Anonymous Monk of the Benedictine Abbey of Bèze (early 12th century?): Elevations on the Glories of Jerusalem (quoted in Jean Leclercq OSB, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God; A Study of Monastic Culture, ch 45).

Next Page »