Tikhon of Zadonsk: “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost” Wednesday, May 25 2016 

Tikhon_of_Zadonsk“The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). This is the exceedingly sweet voice of the Gospel.

[…] But let us see what the Gospel is, and what it requires of us, and to whom it is rightly preached.

From its very name the Gospel is the gladdest of tidings. To all the world it preaches Christ the Saviour of the world Who came to seek out and to save the lost.

Listen all you lost sinners, listen to that exceedingly sweet voice of the Gospel! It cries out to us all, “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.”

It is a fearful thing for us to be found in sin before God. The Gospel preaches that our sins are forgiven for Christ’s name’s sake and that Christ is our justification before God.

In Thee, my Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, am I justified. Thou art my truth and enlightenment.

It is a fearful thing for us to be found at enmity with God. The Gospel preaches that Christ has reconciled us to God, and having come He preached peace to all near and far.

A fearful thing for us is the curse of the Law, for we are all sinners; it subjects the sinner to both temporal and eternal punishment. The Gospel preaches that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become the curse for us.

A fearful thing for us is death. The Gospel preaches that Christ is our resurrection and life.

A fearful thing for us are Gehenna and hell. The Gospel preaches that Christ delivered us from hell and all its calamities.

It is a fearful thing for us to be separated from God. The Gospel preaches that we shall be with the Lord always in His eternal Kingdom.

This, blessed Christians, is the most sweet voice of the Gospel, “Taste,” then, “and see that the Lord is good” (LXX Psalm 33:9 [KJV Psalm 34:8]).

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned” (John 3:16-18).

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn salvation for us in the house of His servant David” (Luke 1:68-69).

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) .

Athanasius of Alexandria: The renewal of creation has been the work of the self-same Word that made it at the beginning Tuesday, Jul 21 2015 

AthanasiusIn what precedes we have drawn out…a sufficient account of the error of the heathen concerning idols,

—and of the worship of idols, and how they originally came to be invented;

—how, namely, out of wickedness men devised for themselves the worshipping of idols.

And we have by God’s grace noted also of the divinity of the Word of the Father,

—and of His universal Providence and power,

—and that the Good Father through Him orders all things,

—and all things are moved by Him, and in Him are quickened.

Come now, true lover of Christ, let us follow up the faith of our religion (τῆς εὐσεβείας – cf. 1 Tim. 3:16), and set forth also what relates to the Word’s becoming Man, and to His divine appearing amongst us…in order that, all the more for the seeming low estate of the Word, your piety toward Him may be increased and multiplied.

For the more He is mocked among the unbelieving, the more witness does He give of His own Godhead. He not only Himself demonstrates as possible what men mistake, thinking impossible, but what men deride as unseemly, this by His own goodness He clothes with seemliness.

And what men, in their conceit of wisdom, laugh at as merely human, He by His own power demonstrates to be divine, subduing the pretensions of idols by His supposed humiliation—by the Cross—and invisibly winning over to recognise His divinity and power those who mock and disbelieve.

But to treat this subject it is necessary to recall what has been previously said, in order that you may neither fail to know the cause of the bodily appearing of the Word of the Father, so high and so great, nor think it a consequence of His own nature that the Saviour has worn a body.

Rather, being incorporeal by nature, and being Word from the beginning, He has yet of the loving-kindness and goodness of His own Father been manifested to us in a human body for our salvation.

It is, then, proper for us to begin the treatment of this subject by speaking of the creation of the universe, and of God its Artificer, that so it may be duly perceived that the renewal of creation has been the work of the self-same Word that made it at the beginning.

For it will appear not inconsonant for the Father to have wrought its salvation in Him by Whose means He made it.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 1 (slightly adapted).

Irenaeus of Lyons: The Law Was a School of Instruction and a Prophecy of What Was to Come Wednesday, Mar 7 2012 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonGod who stands in need of no one gave communion with himself to those who need him.

[…] By his own hand he gave food in Egypt to those who did not see him. To those who were restless in the desert he gave a law perfectly suited to them.

To those who entered the land of prosperity he gave a worthy inheritance. He killed the fatted calf for those who turned to him as Father, and clothed them with the finest garment.

In so many ways he was training the human race to take part in the harmonious song of salvation.

[…] As the Word passed among all these people he provided help in generous measure for those who were obedient to him, by drawing up a law that was suitable and fitting for every circumstance.

He established a law for the people governing the construction of the tabernacle and the building of the temple, the choice of Levites, the sacrifices, the offerings, the rites of purification and the rest of what belonged to worship.

He himself needs none of these things. He is always filled with all that is good.

Even before Moses existed he had within himself every fragrance of all that is pleasing.

Yet he sought to teach his people, always ready though they were to return to their idols. Through many acts of indulgence he tried to prepare them for perseverance in his service.

He kept calling them to what was primary by means of what was secondary, that is, through foreshadowings to the reality, through things of time to the things of eternity, through things of the flesh to the things of the spirit, through earthly things to the heavenly things.

As he said to Moses: You will fashion all things according to the pattern that you saw on the mountain.

For forty days Moses was engaged in remembering the words of God, the heavenly patterns, the spiritual images, the foreshadowings of what was to come.

Saint Paul says: They drank from the rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.

After speaking of the things that are in the law he continues: All these things happened to them as symbols: they were written to instruct us, on whom the end of the ages has come.

Through foreshadowings of the future they were learning reverence for God and perseverance in his service.

The law was therefore a school of instruction for them, and a prophecy of what was to come.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202):Adversus Haereses, Lib. 4, 14, 2-3; 15, 1; from the Office of Readings for Wednesday of the Second Week in Lent @ Crossroads Initiative.  

Maximus the Confessor: When the Intellect Perceives its own Weakness it Rejects the Vain Pretensions of the Heart Thursday, Oct 6 2011 

When any devout philosopher fortified with ascetic practice and contemplation sees the power of evil rising up against him through the passions, like the king of the Assyrians rising up against Hezekiah, he is aware that only with God’s help can he escape.

He invokes God’s mercy by crying out silently and by striving to advance still further in virtue and knowledge.

He then receives as an ally, or rather as his salvation, an angel: one of the higher principles of wisdom and knowledge who cuts off every mighty man, warrior, leader and commander in the camp.

Every passion has its origin in the corresponding sensible object. For without some object to attract the powers of the soul through the senses, no passion would ever be generated.

In other words, without a sensible object a passion does not come into being.

[…] Thus at the origin of every impassioned stimulation of our natural powers there is a sensible object or, in other terms, a demon inciting the soul to commit sin by means of the sensible object.

The wrath of God is the painful sensation we experience when we are being trained by Him.

Through this painful experience of unsought sufferings God often abases and humbles an intellect concerned about its knowledge and virtue; for such sufferings make it conscious of itself and its own weakness.

When the intellect perceives its own weakness it rejects the vain pretensions of the heart.

[…] The intellect of every true philosopher … possesses both Judah and Jerusalem; Judah is practical philosophy and Jerusalem is contemplative initiation.

Whenever by the grace of God such an intellect repels the powers of evil with virtue and spiritual knowledge and wins a complete victory over them, yet does not thank God the true author of this victory, but boasts that the achievement is its own, it brings down the wrath of God’s abandonment not only on itself but also on Judah and Jerusalem, that is, on both its practice of the virtues and its contemplative life.

It has failed to give thanks to God for the gifts that he has given.

God at once permits shameful passions to vitiate its practice of the virtues and to sully its conscience, which until then was pure.

He also permits false concepts to insinuate themselves into its contemplation of created beings and to pervert its spiritual knowledge, which until then had been sound.

For ignoble passions immediately attack an intellect that is over-elated because of its spiritual knowledge and such an intellect will be permitted by God’s just judgement to lapse from true contemplation.

St Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-662): Various Texts on Theology, 3.2, 3, 9-11; Philokalia 2 (1981) tr. Palmer etc., taken from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Year 1

Anselm of Canterbury: Christ the Fountain of Mercy Sunday, Mar 13 2011 

He is the Fountain of Mercy, which began to flow from the beginning of the world, and continues to flow unto this day.

He was very merciful, they say, and gracious unto our first father Adam, when he committed that sin of eating the forbidden fruit.

For He condemned him not straightway, as he had deserved, to everlasting perdition, but with patience awaited his amendment.

And in His mercy helped him that he might be enabled to return into the favour of Him whom he had offended.

Many times therefore He sent His angel unto him, and unto those who were born of him, warning them that they should return unto Him and repent them of their iniquities.

For He would yet with joy receive them, if with all their heart they would repent them of their sins.

But they yet, continuing in their sins and despising His admonitions, added sin to sin, and became as it were beside themselves and abominable in their wickedness.

Being made in honour after the likeness of God, they began contrary to nature to live after the manner of brute beasts.

He sent moreover patriarchs, He sent prophets, but not even so would they leave their crooked and perverse ways.

But some of them who spoke unto them wholesome warnings, they slew. Others they vexed with manifold and strange torments.

Yet did He chastise them from time to time, as a merciful Father

– not that He, being provoked by their evil deeds, might avenge Himself upon them for their scorn of Him,

but that they being corrected might return unto His mercy, who by no means wills the destruction of those whom in His goodness He hath created.

But when neither for often admonition nor for often correction would they return unto Him, the Fountain of Pity could no longer restrain Himself.

Coming down from the bosom of the Father, and taking upon Him very manhood, taking upon Him the form of sinners, He began to admonish them in gentleness even then to repent of their sins unto salvation and to acknowledge Him to be the Son of God.

For there is no sin so grievous but it may be put away by repentance, so that the very devil himself can no longer remember it.

Therefore did sinners, seeing the sweet gentleness of their Creator, begin themselves to run zealously unto the Fountain of Mercy, the Fountain of Pity, and to wash away their sins therein.

The Fountain of Pity also Himself began to eat and drink with sinners, began to open to them the sacramental blessings of holy confession, for in true confession all stain of guilt is washed away.

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109): Meditations.

Henry Suso: In the Ante-Chamber of Eternal Salvation Monday, Feb 1 2010 

Lord, truly I seek and find in myself a great inequality.

When my soul is deserted, she is like a sick person who can relish nothing; who is disgusted with everything; the body is languid, the spirits are dull; dryness within, and sadness without.

All that I see and hear is then repugnant to me, and I know not how good it is, for I have lost all discrimination. I am then inclined to sin, weak in resisting my enemies, cold and lukewarm in all that is good.

He who visits me finds an empty house, for the master, who gives wise counsel and makes all the family glad at heart, is not within.

But, Lord, when in the midst of my soul the bright morning star rises, all my sorrow passes away, all my darkness is scattered, and laughing cheerfulness appears.

Lord, then leaps my heart, then are my spirits gladdened, then rejoices my soul, then is it my marriage feast, while all that is in me or about me is turned to Thy praise.

What before was hard, troublesome, and impossible, becomes easy and pleasant; fasting, watching, praying, self-denial, and every sort of rigour, are made sweet by Thy presence.

Then do I acquire great assurance in many things, which, in my dereliction I had lost; my soul is then overflowed with clearness, truth, and sweetness, so that she forgets all her toil.

My heart can sweetly meditate, my tongue loftily discourse, and whoever seeks high counsel from me touching his heart’s desire finds it; for then I am as though I had overstepped the bounds of time and space, and stood in the ante-chamber of eternal salvation.

Alas, Lord! who will grant that it might only be of longer duration, for behold, in a moment it is snatched away, and I am again stripped and forsaken.

Sometimes I pursue it as if I had never gained it, till at last, after much sorrow and trouble of heart, it comes back.

Henry Suso (c. 1296 – 1366): The Little Book of Divine Wisdom, 1,9.

Cyril of Alexandria: Prepare the Way of the Lord Sunday, Dec 6 2009 

Luke 3:4 “Prepare ye the ways of the Lord, make His paths straight.”

John, being chosen for the Apostleship, was also the last of the holy prophets: for which reason, as the Lord was not yet come, he says, Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

And what is the meaning of “Prepare ye the way of the Lord?”

It stands for “Make ready for the reception of whatever Christ may wish to enact: withdraw your hearts from the shadow of the law: cease from the types: think no more perversely”.

“Make the paths of our God straight”. For every path that leads unto good is straight and smooth and easy: but the other is crooked that leads down to wickedness them that walk therein. For of such it is written, “Whose paths are crooked, and the tracks of their wheels awry”.

Straightforwardness therefore of the mind is as it were a straight path, having no crookedness. Such was the divine Psalmist’s character, who thus sings, “A crooked heart hath not cleaved unto me”.

And Jesus, the son of Nun, in exhorting the people, said, “Make straight your hearts unto the God of Israel”; while John cries, “Make straight your ways”.

And this means, that the soul must be straight, displaying its natural intuition as it was created: and it was created beautiful and very straight. But when it turns aside, and its natural state is perverted, this is called vice, and the perversion of the soul.

The matter therefore is not very difficult: for if we continue as we are made, we shall be virtuous.

But when some one, as it were, exclaims against us, saying, How shall we prepare the way of the Lord? or how make His paths straight? for there are many impediments in the way of those that will live well –

Satan, who hates all that is beautiful, the unholy throng of wicked spirits, the law of sin itself that is in our fleshly members, and which arms itself against the inclinations of the mind to what is good, and many other passions besides, that have mastery over the mind of man.

What then shall we do, with so great difficulty pressing upon us? The word of prophecy meets these objections, saying, “Every valley shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked way shall become straight, and the rough ways shall become smooth: and all flesh shall see the salvation of God”.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on Luke, Sermon 6 [on Luke3:4].