Irenaeus of Lyons: The Word of God was made flesh by the dispensation of the Virgin, to abolish death and make man live Saturday, Jul 9 2016 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonHe fulfilled the promise made to Abraham, which God had promised him, to make his seed as the stars of heaven.

For this Christ did, who was born of the Virgin who was of Abraham’s seed, and constituted those who have faith in Him lights in the world, and by the same faith with Abraham justified the Gentiles.

[…] And He fulfilled the promise to David; for to him God had promised that of the fruit of his body He would raise up an eternal King, whose kingdom should have no end.

[…] Thus then He gloriously achieved our redemption, and fulfilled the promise of the fathers, and abolished the old disobedience.

The Son of God became Son of David and Son of Abraham; perfecting and summing up this in Himself, that He might make us to possess life.

The Word of God was made flesh by the dispensation of the Virgin, to abolish death and make man live. For we were imprisoned by sin, being born in sinfulness and living under death.

But God the Father was very merciful: He sent His creative Word, who in coming to deliver us came to the very place and spot in which we had lost life, and brake the bonds of our fetters.

And His light appeared and made the darkness of the prison disappear, and hallowed our birth and destroyed death, loosing those same fetters in which we were enchained.

And He manifested |the resurrection Himself becoming the first-begotten of the dead (Rev. 1:5), and in Himself raising up man that was fallen, lifting him up far above the heaven to the right hand of the glory of the Father: even as God promised by the prophet, saying: And I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen (Amos 9:2); that is, the flesh that was from David.

And this our Lord Jesus Christ truly fulfilled, when He gloriously achieved our redemption, that He might truly raise us up, setting us free unto the Father.

And if any man will not receive His birth from a virgin, how shall he receive His resurrection from the dead? For it is nothing wonderful and astonishing and extraordinary, if one who was not born rose from the dead: nay indeed we cannot speak of a resurrection of him who came unto being without birth.

For one who is unborn and immortal, and has not undergone birth, will also not undergo death. For he who took not the beginning of man, how could he receive his end?

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 35-38.

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John Chrysostom: Let us not be sad that we are mortal, but rather let us be grateful Sunday, Jun 26 2016 

Chrysostom3Not seven days have passed since we celebrated the holy feast of Pentecost and again we are overtaken by a chorus of martyrs, or better, serried ranks of martyrs, which are in no way lesser than the ranks of the angels seen by the Patriarch Jacob but equal to and of the same worth as them.

Because martyrs and angels differ only as regards the name, whereas in their works they’re united. Angels reside in the heavens, but so, too, do the martyrs. The former are eternal and immortal; the martyrs will become so.

But have the latter assumed a bodiless form? What does it matter? Because the martyrs, even though they have a body, are still immortal, or rather, before immortality, the death of Christ adorns their bodies even more greatly than immortality.

The sky, be it adorned with ever so many stars, is not so bright as the bodies of the martyrs, which are made beautiful by the blood of their wounds. So, because they died for Him, they are, in fact, superior and have been decorated before achieving immortality, since they were crowned from the moment death.

‘You have made them a little lower than the angels, with glory and honour you have crowned them’, said David, regarding the nature of the whole of the human race. But when Christ came, He completed this small amount, because He condemned death by His own death.

That is not what I am saying though. What I mean is that this defect of death became an advantage. If they had not been mortal, they would not have become martyrs. So, had there been no death, there would not have been any crown. Had there been no death, there would not be martyrdom.

Had there been no death, Saint Paul would not have been able to say ‘I affirm by the pride in you that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord: I die every day’. Had there been no death and corruption, the same Apostle would not have been able to say, ‘Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions’.

Therefore let us not be sad that we are mortal, but rather let us be grateful, since the arena of martyrdom has been opened to us by death and, by corruption, we have been given the chance of winning the prize. From now on, we have a reason to strive.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Encomium on All Saints @ Pemptousia [slightly adapted].

Gregory Palamas: Christ now sent forth the Spirit Who comes from the Father Sunday, Jun 19 2016 

Gregory_PalamasA short while ago, with the strong eyes of faith, we beheld Christ ascending, no less clearly than those accounted worthy to be eye-witnesses.

Nor are we less favoured than they. “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”, says the Lord (John 20:29), referring to those who have found assurance through hearing, and see by faith.

Recently we saw Christ lifted up from the ground bodily (Acts 1:9). Now, through the Holy Spirit sent by Him to His disciples, we see how far Christ ascended and to what dignity He carried up the nature He assumed from us.

Clearly He went up as high as the place from which the Spirit sent by Him descended. He who spoke through the prophet Joel showed us whence the Spirit comes, saying, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28), and to Him David addressed the words, “Thou wilt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created; and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth” (Ps. 103:32).

It follows that at His ascension Christ went up to the Father on high, as far as His Fatherly bosom, from which comes the Spirit. Having been shown, even in His human form, to share the Father’s glory, Christ now sent forth the Spirit Who comes from the Father and is sent by Him from heaven.

But when we hear that the Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son, this does not mean that the Spirit has no part in their greatness, for He is not just sent, but also Himself sends and consents to be sent.

This is clearly shown by Christ’s words spoken through the prophet, “Mine hand hath laid the foundation of the earth and stretched out the heavens, and now the Lord God, and His Spirit, hath sent Me” (cf. Isa. 48:13-16). Again, speaking through the same prophet He says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek” (Isa. 61:1).

The Holy Spirit is not just sent, but Himself sends the Son, Who is sent by the Father. He is therefore shown to be the same as the Father and the Son in nature, power, operation and honour.

By the good pleasure of the Father and the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, the only-begotten Son of God, on account of the boundless ocean of divine love for mankind, bowed the heavens and came down (Ps. 17:9). He appeared on earth after our fashion, lived among us, and did and taught great, wonderful and sublime things truly worthy of God, which led those who obeyed Him towards deification and salvation.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): Homily 24, on Pentecost, 1-2. From Saint Gregory Palamas: The Homilies (Mount Thabor Publishing, 2009), full version online here.

Leo the Great: I have become Son of Man that you might have power to be sons of God Friday, Jun 17 2016 

Saint_Leo_of_RomeThe Lord Jesus does, indeed, say to His disciples, as was read in the Gospel lection, if you loved Me, you would assuredly rejoice, because I go to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.

But those ears, which have often heard the words, I and the Father are One, and He that sees Me, sees the Father also, accept the saying without supposing a difference of Godhead or understanding it of that Essence which they know to be co-eternal and of the same nature with the Father.

Man’s uplifting, therefore, in the Incarnation of the Word, is commended to the holy Apostles also.

And they, who were distressed at the announcement of the Lord’s departure from them, are incited to eternal joy over the increase in their dignity; If you loved Me, He says, you would assuredly rejoice, because I go to the Father.

That is, if, with complete knowledge you saw what glory is bestowed on you by the fact that, being begotten of God the Father, I have been born of a human mother also, that being invisible I have made Myself visible, that being eternal in the form of God I accepted the form of a slave, you would rejoice because I go to the Father.

For to you is offered this ascension, and your humility is in Me raised to a place above all heavens at the Father’s right hand.

But I, Who am with the Father that which the Father is, abide undivided with My Father, and in coming from Him to you I do not leave Him, even as in returning to Him from you I do not forsake you.

Rejoice, therefore, because I go to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. For I have united you with Myself, and have become Son of Man that you might have power to be sons of God.

And hence, though I am One in both forms, yet in that whereby I am conformed to you I am less than the Father, whereas in that whereby I am not divided from the Father I am greater even than Myself.

And so let the Nature, which is less than the Father, go to the Father, that the Flesh may be where the Word always is, and that the one faith of the Catholic Church may believe that He Whom as Man it does not deny to be less, is equal as God with the Father.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 77, 5.

Ælfric of Eynsham: Now today that same nature went incorruptible into the kingdom of heaven Wednesday, Jun 8 2016 

All_SS_of_BritainJesus taught the holy lore to his disciples before his passion, and after his resurrection he was continuing among them these forty days, from the holy Eastertide until this present day, and in many ways reproved and tried his disciples, and repeated that which he had before taught, for the perfection of doctrine and right faith.

He ate and drank after his resurrection, not because he then had need of earthly food, but because he would manifest his true body. He ate through power, not for need. As fire consumes drops of water, so did the divine power of Christ consume the received meat.

Verily after the universal resurrection our bodies will require no strengthening of earthly meats, for Jesus will supply all our needs with heavenly things, and we shall be enriched with glory, and mighty to execute whatsoever is pleasing to us, and we shall be full swift to go through all the immensities of the kingdom of God.

He promised to his disciples then and frequently that he would send to them the Holy Ghost, and thus said, “When he comes he will stimulate and direct you to all the things which I have said unto you.”

Then came the Holy Ghost in semblance of fire to the holy company on the eleventh day after Christ’s ascension, and inflamed them all with innoxious fire, and they were filled with heavenly lore, and knew all worldly tongues, and fearlessly preached faith and baptism to the powerful and cruel.

[…] All creatures serve their Creator. When Christ was born, heaven sent forth a new star, which announced the birth of God. Again, when he ascended to heaven, the heavenly cloud bowed down towards him, and received him: not that the cloud bare him, for he holds the throne of heaven, but he passed with the cloud from the sight of men.

There were seen two angels in white garments. In like manner at his birth angels were seen; but the holy gospel has not explained how they were adorned; for God came to us very humble.

At his ascension were seen angels adorned with white garments. Joy is betokened by white garments, for Christ departed hence with great joy and with great majesty. At his birth it seemed as though the Godhead were humbled, and at his ascension humanity was exalted and magnified. With his ascension is annulled the writ of our condemnation, and the sentence of our destruction is abrogated.

When Adam had sinned, the Almighty Ruler said to him, “Thou art earth, and thou shalt to earth return. Thou art dust, and thou shalt return to dust.” Now today that same nature went incorruptible into the kingdom of heaven.

Ælfric of Eynsham (c. 955 – c. 1010): Homily 21 (for the Ascension), trans. Benjamin Thorpe; icon of All Saints of Britain and Ireland.

John Damascene: Hail! O Christ, the Word and Wisdom and Power of God, and God omnipotent! Friday, Jun 3 2016 

John-of-Damascus_01Continued from here….

The worship of demons then has ceased;

creation has been sanctified by the divine blood;

altars and temples of idols have been overthrown;

the knowledge of God has been implanted in men’s minds;

the co-essential Trinity, the uncreate divinity, one true God, Creator and Lord of all receives men’s service;

virtues are cultivated, the hope of resurrection has been granted through the resurrection of Christ;

the demons shudder at those men who of old were under their subjection.

And the marvel, indeed, is that all this has been successfully brought about through His Cross and passion and death.

Throughout all the earth the Gospel of the knowledge of God has been preached; no wars or weapons or armies being used to rout the enemy, but only a few, naked, poor, illiterate, persecuted and tormented men.

With their lives in their hands, they preached Him Who was crucified in the flesh and died, and who became victors over the wise and powerful.

For the omnipotent power of the Cross accompanied them.

Death itself, which once was man’s chiefest terror, has been overthrown, and now that which was once the object of hate and loathing is preferred to life.

These are the achievements of Christ’s presence: these are the tokens of His power.

For it was not one people that He saved, as when through Moses He divided the sea and delivered Israel out of Egypt and the bondage of Pharaoh (Ex. 14:16);

nay, rather He rescued all mankind from the corruption of death and the bitter tyranny of sin: not leading them by force to virtue, not overwhelming them with earth or burning them with fire, or ordering the sinners to be stoned, but persuading men by gentleness and long-suffering to choose virtue and vie with one another, and find pleasure in the struggle to attain it.

For, formerly, it was sinners who were persecuted, and yet they clung all the closer to sin, and sin was looked upon by them as their God. But now for the sake of piety and virtue men choose persecutions and crucifixions and death.

Hail! O Christ, the Word and Wisdom and Power of God, and God omnipotent! What can we helpless ones give Thee in return for all these good gifts?

For all are Thine, and Thou askest naught from us save our salvation, Thou Who Thyself art the Giver of this, and yet art grateful to those who receive it, through Thy unspeakable goodness.

Thanks be to Thee Who gave us life, and granted us the grace of a happy life, and restored us to that, when we had gone astray, through Thy unspeakable condescension.

John Damascene (c.675-749): De Fide Orthodoxa 4,4 [slightly adapted].

Augustine of Hippo: When the Lord rose from the dead, he put off the mortality of the flesh Wednesday, May 18 2016 

St Augustine of AfricaI speak to you who have just been reborn in baptism, my little children in Christ.

[…] It is the words of the Apostle that I address to you: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh and its desires, so that you may be clothed with the life of him whom you have put on in this sacrament.

You have all been clothed with Christ by your baptism in him. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor freeman; there is neither male nor female; you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Such is the power of this sacrament: it is a sacrament of new life which begins here and now with the forgiveness of all past sins, and will be brought to completion in the resurrection of the dead.

You have been buried with Christ by baptism into death in order that, as Christ has risen from the dead, you also may walk in newness of life.

You are walking now by faith, still on pilgrimage in a mortal body away from the Lord; but he to whom your steps are directed is himself the sure and certain way for you: Jesus Christ, who for our sake became man.

For all who fear him he has stored up abundant happiness, which he will reveal to those who hope in him, bringing it to completion when we have attained the reality which even now we possess in hope.

This is the octave day of your new birth. Today is fulfilled in you the sign of faith that was prefigured in the Old Testament by the circumcision of the flesh on the eighth day after birth.

When the Lord rose from the dead, he put off the mortality of the flesh; his risen body was still the same body, but it was no longer subject to death. By his resurrection he consecrated Sunday, or the Lord’s day.

Though the third after his passion, this day is the eighth after the Sabbath, and thus also the first day of the week. And so your own hope of resurrection, though not yet realised, is sure and certain, because you have received the sacrament or sign of this reality, and have been given the pledge of the Spirit.

If, then, you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your hearts on heavenly things, not the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, appears, then you too will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Sermon 8 in the Octave of Easter, Office of Readings for Sunday in the second week of Easter @ Universalis.

Ælfric of Eynsham: There came a great light, and an awful sound, and blowing trumpets Sunday, May 15 2016 

All_SS_of_BritainGod commanded Moses in Egypt, that he and all the people of Israel should offer, for every household, a lamb of one year to God, and mark with the blood the sign of the cross on their door-posts and lintels, as on that night God’s angel went and slew in every house of the Egyptian folk the firstborn child and the dearest.

And the people of Israel went on the same night from the nation, and God led them over the Red sea with dry feet.

Pharaoh then hastened after them with a great army. When he came into the middle of the sea, the people of God were gone up, and God then sank Pharaoh and all his host.

God then commanded Moses and the people that they should keep that tide with great reverence in the circuit of every year. The tide was then appointed to the people for Easter-tide, because God had saved them from their foes, and destroyed their persecutors.

Then fifty days after this God appointed a law for the people, and the glory of God was seen on a hill which is called Sinai. There came a great light, and an awful sound, and blowing trumpets. Then God called Moses to him, and he was with God forty days, and wrote down the old law by God’s direction. Then was the day called Pentecost in the Old Testament.

The offered lamb betokened the slaying of Christ, who innocent was offered to his Father for our redemption. Now is his passion and his resurrection our Easter-tide, because he redeemed us from the thraldom of the devil, and our persecutors are sunk by the holy baptism, as Pharaoh was with his people in the Red sea.

These fifty days from the day of Easter are all hallowed to one celebration, and this present day is our Pentecost, that is, the fiftieth day from Easter-day.

On the old Pentecost God appointed a law to the people of Israel, and on this day the Holy Ghost came in semblance of fire to God’s company; for as the lamb betokened the passion of Christ, so also the old law betokened the preaching of the gospel under the grace of God.

There are three periods in this world: one is that which was without law; the second is that which was under the law; the third is now after the advent of Christ. This period is called ‘under God’s grace.’

We are not without law, nor may we hold bodily the law of Moses, but God’s grace directs us to his will, if we be mindful of Christ’s commandments and of the precepts of the apostles.

Ælfric of Eynsham (c. 955 – c. 1010): Homily 22 (for the Holy Day of Pentecost), trans. Benjamin Thorpe; icon of All Saints of Britain and Ireland.

Gregory of Nyssa: Now the mystery of Christ’s death is fulfilled, victory is won, and the Cross, the sign of triumph, is raised on high Saturday, May 7 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaOn Psalm 23 [24].

The Gospel describes the Lord’s life upon earth and his return to heaven.

But the sublime prophet David, as though unencum­bered by the weight of his body, rose above himself to mingle with the heavenly powers and record for us their words as they accompanied the Master when he came down from heaven.

Ordering the angels on earth entrusted with the care of human life to raise the gates, they cried: Lift up your gates, you princes; be lifted up you everlasting doors. Let the King of glory enter.

But because wherever he is, he who contains all things in himself makes himself like those who receive him, not only becoming a man among men, but also when among angels conforming his nature to theirs, the gatekeepers asked: Who is this King of glory?

He is the strong one, they were told, mighty in battle, the one who is to grapple with and overthrow the captor of the human race who has the power of death. When this last enemy has been destroyed, he will restore us to freedom and peace.

Now the mystery of Christ’s death is fulfilled, victory is won, and the Cross, the sign of triumph, is raised on high. He who gives us the noble gifts of life and a kingdom has ascended into heaven, leading captivity captive.

Therefore the same command is repeated. Once more the gates of heaven must open for him. Our guardian angels, who have now become his escorts, order them to be flung wide so that he may enter and regain his former glory.

But he is not recognized in the soiled garments of our life, in clothes reddened by the winepress of human sin. Again the escorting angels are asked: Who is this King of glory?

The answer is no longer, The strong one, mighty in battle, but, The lord of hosts, he who has gained power over the whole universe, who has recapitulated all things in himself who is above all things, who has restored all creation to its former state: He is the King of glory.

You see how much David has added to our joy in this feast and contributed to the gladness of the Church.

Therefore as far as we can let us imitate the prophet by our love for God, by gentleness and by patience with those who hate us. Let the prophet’s teaching help us to live in a way pleasing to God in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): On the Ascension (Jaeger 9.1.323-327); ); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Eastertide, Year 2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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