John Chrysostom: “Reflecting the Lord’s Glory, We are Refashioned to His Likeness” Sunday, Mar 16 2014 

John_ChrysostomWhat does it mean, to say (as Saint Paul does) that: Reflecting the Lord’s glory, we are refashioned transformed to his likeness (2 Corinthians 3;18)?

This was clearer in evidence when the grace of miracles was actively at work; but it is not hard to see even now, for anyone with the eyes of faith.

For on receiving baptism the soul shines brighter than the sun, being purified by the Holy Spirit; and not only do we behold God’s glory, but from it we receive a certain gleam ourselves.

Just as bright silver, when struck by beams of light, can send out beams in its turn, not simply of its own nature but from the sun’s brilliance, so also the soul, once purified and become brighter than silver, receives a beam from the glory of the Holy Spirit and sends that on.

That is why he says, Reflecting, we are refashioned he same pattern from – or of, or by – his glory, that of the Holy Spirit, into a glory, our own, which is contingent, modelled on the Spirit of the Lord.

See how he calls the Spirit “Lord,” or “Master.” He it is who transforms us, who does not permit us to conform to this world, the maker and first cause of creation as he is. As he says: You have been established in Christ Jesus.

This can be explained in more concrete terms from the apostles. We think of St. Paul, whose very clothes were activated; of St. Peter, whose very shadow had power.

That could never have been, if they had not borne the king’s likeness; if they had not had something of his unapproachable brightness – so much, it appears, that their clothes and their shadows worked wonders.

See how that brightness shines through their bodies! Gazing on the face of Stephen, he says, they seemed to see the face of an angel.

But that was nothing to the glory shining like lightning within. What Moses bore on his face, they carried in their souls, but to a much higher degree.

The mark on Moses was more tangible; but this was incorporeal. Dimly glowing bodies catch fire from brighter ones close by and pass on to others their own incandescence.

All that resembles what happens to the faithful. In this way they detach themselves from the world and have their converse only in the things of heaven.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407):  From a Homily by Saint John Chrysostom on 2 Corinthians 3 @ Dom Donald’s Blog.

Gregory Nazianzen: I Await the Transformation of the Heavens, the Transfiguration of the Earth, the Renovation of the Universe Saturday, Nov 9 2013 

St.-Gregory-NazianzenI believe the words of the wise.

I believe that every fair and God-beloved soul, when it has been set free from the bonds of the body, departs hence, and at once enjoys a sense and perception of the blessings which await it.

It enjoys this inasmuch as that which darkened it has been purged away, or laid aside—I know not how else to term it.

And it feels a wondrous pleasure and exultation, and goes rejoicing to meet its Lord.

For it has escaped, as it were, from the grievous poison of life here, and has shaken off the fetters which bound it and held down the wings of the mind.

And so it enters on the enjoyment of the bliss laid up for it, of which it has even now some conception.

Then, a little later, it receives its kindred flesh, which once shared in its pursuits of things above, from the earth which both gave and had been entrusted with it.

And, in some way known to God, who knit them together and dissolved them, the soul enters with the flesh upon the inheritance of the glory there.

And, as it shared, through their close union, in its hardships, so also it bestows upon it a portion of its joys, gathering it up entirely into itself, and becoming with it one in spirit and in mind and in God, the mortal and mutable being swallowed up of life.

Hear at least how the inspired Ezekiel discourses of the knitting together of bones and sinews (Ezek. 37:3).

Hear how after him Saint Paul speaks of the earthly tabernacle, and the house not made with hands, the one to be dissolved, the other laid up in heave.

Hear how Paul alleges absence from the body to be presence with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:1, 6; Phil. 1:23), and bewailing his life in it as an exile, and therefore longing for and hastening to his release.

Why am I faint-hearted in my hopes?  Why behave like a mere creature of a day?

I await the voice of the Archangel (1 Thess. 4:16), the last trumpet (1 Cor. 15:52), the transformation of the heavens, the transfiguration of the earth, the liberation of the elements, the renovation of the universe (2 Pet. 3:10).

Then shall I see Cæsarius himself, no longer in exile, no longer laid upon a bier, no longer the object of mourning and pity, but brilliant, glorious, heavenly.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 7, 21 (Panegyric on His Brother S. Cæsarius).

Gregory Palamas: Mystery of the Transfiguration Sunday, Mar 20 2011 

The Evangelist Luke says: “And as He prayed, His countenance was altered” (Lk 9:29); and from the Evangelist Matthew we read: “And His face shone as the sun” (Mt 17:2).

The Evangelist said this…to show that Christ-God, for those living and contemplating by the Spirit, is the same as the sun is for those living in the flesh and contemplating by the senses.

Therefore, some other Light for the knowing the Divinity is not necessary for those who are enriched by Divine gifts.

That same Inscrutable Light shone and was mysteriously manifest to the Apostles and the foremost of the Prophets at that moment, when the Lord was praying.

This shows that what brought forth this blessed sight was prayer, and that the radiance occurred and was manifest by uniting the mind with God.

And it shows that it is granted to all who, with constant exercise in efforts of virtue and prayer, strive with their mind towards God.

True beauty, essentially, can be contemplated only with a purified mind.

To gaze upon its luminance assumes a sort of participation in it, as though some bright ray etches itself upon the face.

Even the face of Moses was illumined by his association with God. Do you not know that Moses was transfigured when he went up the mountain, and there beheld the Glory of God?

Moses did not effect this, but rather he underwent a transfiguration. However, our Lord Jesus Christ possessed that Light Himself….

Christ did not need prayer for His flesh to radiate with the Divine Light; it was but to show from whence that Light descends upon the saints of God, and how to contemplate it.

For it is written that even the saints “will shine forth like the sun” (Mt 13:43), which is to say, entirely permeated by Divine Light as they gaze upon Christ, divinely and inexpressibly shining forth His Radiance, issuing from His Divine Nature.

[…] This Light was the Light of the Divine Nature, and as such, it was Uncreated and Divine.

So also, in the teachings of the Fathers, Jesus Christ was transfigured on the Mount, not taking upon Himself something new nor being changed into something new, nor something which formerly He did not possess.

[…] This Light is not a light of the senses, and those contemplating it do not simply see with sensual eyes, but rather they are changed by the power of the Divine Spirit.

They were transformed, and only in this way did they see the transformation taking place amidst the very assumption of our perishability, with deification through union with the Word of God in place of this.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): extracted from Homilly on the Transfiguration (from the translation at Pravoslavie.ru).

Fulgentius of Ruspe: Spiritual Resurrection and Justification; Bodily Resurrection and Glorification Tuesday, Nov 16 2010 

Church FathersIn a moment, in the twinkling of an eye as the final trumpet sounds, for the trumpet shall indeed sound, the dead shall rise incorruptible and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:52).

In saying “we”, Paul is indicating that the gift of that future change will also be given to those who during their time on earth are united to him and his companions by upright lives within the communion of the Church.

He hints at the nature of the change when he says: This corruptible body must put on incorruptibility, this mortal body immortality.

In order, then, that men may obtain the transformation which is the reward of the just, they must first undergo here on earth a change which is God’s free gift.

Those who in this life have been changed from evil to good are promised that future change as a reward.

Through justification and the spiritual resurrection, grace now effects in them an initial change that is God’s gift.

Later on, through the bodily resurrection, the transformation of the just will be brought to completion, and they will experience a perfect, abiding, unchangeable glorification.

The purpose of this change wrought in them by the gifts of both justification and glorification is that they may abide in an eternal, changeless state of joy.

Here on earth they are changed by the first resurrection, in which they are enlightened and converted, thus passing from death to life, sinfulness to holiness, unbelief to faith, and evil actions to holy life.

For this reason the second death has no power over them. It is of such men that the Book of Revelation says: Happy the man who shares in the first resurrection; over such as he the second death has no power.

Elsewhere the same book says: He who overcomes shall not be harmed by the second death. As the first resurrection consists of the conversion of the heart, the second death consists of unending torment.

Let everyone, therefore, who does not wish to be condemned to the endless punishment of the second death now hasten to share in the first resurrection.

For if any during this life are changed out of fear of God and pass from an evil life to a good one, they pass from death to life and later they shall be transformed from a shameful state to a glorious one.

Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/467—527/533): On the Forgiveness of Sins, book 2 (CCL 92A, 693-695), taken from the Office of Readings for Monday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time @ Crossroads Initiative.

Benedict XVI on Angela of Foligno (4): The More You Pray, the More You will be Illumined Thursday, Oct 14 2010 

Continued from previous post

In Angela’s spiritual itinerary the passage from conversion to mystical experience, from what can be expressed to the inexpressible, happens through the crucifix.

And the “suffering God-man,” who becomes her “teacher of perfection.”

Hence, all her mystical experience tends to a perfect “likeness” with him, through ever more profound and radical purifications and transformations.

In such a stupendous enterprise Angela puts her whole self, soul and body, without sparing herself penances and tribulations from the beginning to the end, desiring to die with all the pains suffered by the God-man crucified to be transformed totally in him.

“O children of God,” she recommended, “transform yourselves totally in the suffering God-man, who so loves you that he deigned to die for you the most ignominious and all together ineffably painful death and in the most painful and bitter way. This only for love of you, O man!”.

This identification also means to live what Jesus lived: poverty, contempt, sorrow because, as she affirmed:

“Through temporal poverty the soul will find eternal riches; through contempt and shame it will obtain supreme honor and very great glory; through a little penance, made with pain and sorrow, it will possess with infinite sweetness and consolation of the Supreme God, God eternal”.
From conversion to mystical union with Christ crucified, to the inexpressible. A very lofty way, whose secret is constant prayer:

“The more you pray,” she affirms, “the more you will be illumined; the more you are illumined, the more profoundly and intensely you will see the Supreme Good, the supremely good Being.

“The more profoundly and intensely you see him, the more you will love him; the more you love him, the more he will delight you.

“And the more he delights you, the more you will understand him and become capable of understanding him.

“You will arrive successively to the fullness of light, because you will understand that you cannot understand”.

Benedict XVI (b. 1927): On Medieval Mystic Blessed Angela of Foligno (translation by Zenit).

John Paul II: Salvation, Eucharist, Divinization, Communion with the Mystery of the Trinity Tuesday, Oct 5 2010 

“Everyone knows with what love the Eastern Christians celebrate the sacred liturgy, especially the Eucharistic mystery, source of the Church’s life and pledge of future glory.

“In this mystery the faithful, united with their bishops, have access to God the Father through the Son, the Word made flesh who suffered and was glorified, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

“And so, made ‘sharers of the divine nature’ (2 Peter 1:4) they enter into communion with the most holy Trinity” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, 15).

These features describe the Eastern outlook of the Christian. His or her goal is participation in the divine nature through communion with the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

In this view the Father’s “monarchy” is outlined as well as the concept of salvation according to the divine plan, as it is presented by Eastern theology after Saint Irenaeus of Lyons and which spread among the Cappadocian Fathers.

Participation in Trinitarian life takes place through the liturgy and in a special way through the Eucharist, the mystery of communion with the glorified body of Christ, the seed of immortality.

In divinization and particularly in the sacraments, Eastern theology attributes a very special role to the Holy Spirit:

through the power of the Spirit who dwells in man deification already begins on earth; the creature is transfigured and God’s kingdom inaugurated.

The teaching of the Cappadocian Fathers on divinization passed into the tradition of all the Eastern Churches and is part of their common heritage.

This can be summarized in the thought already expressed by Saint Irenaeus at the end of the second century: God passed into man so that man might pass over to God.

This theology of divinization remains one of the achievements particularly dear to Eastern Christian thought.

On this path of divinization, those who have been made “most Christ-like” by grace and by commitment to the way of goodness go before us: the martyrs and the saints.

And the Virgin Mary occupies an altogether special place among them. From her the shoot of Jesse sprang (cf. Isaiah 11:1).

Her figure is not only the Mother who waits for us, but the Most Pure, who – the fulfillment of so many Old Testament prefigurations – is an icon of the Church, the symbol and anticipation of humanity transfigured by grace, the model and the unfailing hope for all those who direct their steps towards the heavenly Jerusalem.

John Paul II (1920-2005): Apostolic Letter Orientale Lumen, 6.

John of the Cross: “He That Renounces Not All Things That He Possesses With His Will Cannot Be My Disciple” Thursday, Feb 11 2010 

Wherefore, it is supreme ignorance for the soul to think that it will be able to pass to this high estate of union with God if first it void not the desire of all things, natural and supernatural, which may hinder it…

For this reason Our Lord, when showing us this path, said through Saint Luke: “He that renounces not all things that he possesses with his will cannot be My disciple”.

And this is evident; for the doctrine that the Son of God came to teach was contempt for all things, whereby a man might receive as a reward the Spirit of God in himself.

For, as long as the soul rejects not all things, it has no capacity to receive the Spirit of God in pure transformation.

[…] Oh, did spiritual persons but know how much good and what great abundance of spirit they lose through not seeking to raise up their desires above childish things, and how in this simple spiritual food they would find the sweetness of all things, if they desired not to taste those things!

[…]  Thus he that will love some other thing together with God of a certainty makes little account of God, for he weighs in the balance against God that which, as we have said, is at the greatest possible distance from God.

It is well known by experience that, when the will of a man is affectioned to one thing, he prizes it more than any other; although some other thing may be much better, he takes less pleasure in it.

And if he wishes to enjoy both, he is bound to wrong the more important, because he makes an equality between them.

Wherefore, since there is naught that equals God, the soul that loves some other thing together with Him, or clings to it, does Him a grievous wrong.

And if this is so, what would it be doing if it loved anything more than God?

John of the Cross (1542-1591): Ascent of Mount Carmel, 1, 5, 2-5.

Elizabeth of the Trinity: That The Holy Spirit May Transform You Into God Tuesday, Feb 2 2010 

Elizabeth writes to her sister Marguerite:

I have lately been reading some splendid things by St. Paul about Divine adoption, and I naturally  thought of you.

Being a mother, you know what depth of love for your children God has put into  your heart, so you can understand how great is the  mystery of our being the children of God.

Does it not make you tremble, Marguerite? Listen to what my dear St. Paul says:

“God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…Who hath  predestinated us into the adoption of children…unto the praise of the glory of His grace”.

Which means that, almighty as He is, it does not seem as if  He could have done anything more grand.

Again: “If a son, an heir also through God.” And what is this inheritance? “God hath made us worthy to  be partakers of the lot of the saints in light.”

And  then, as if to show that it does not mean in the far future, the Apostle adds: “Now, therefore, you are no more strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow-citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God.”

Marguerite! this heaven is the centre of our soul; as St. John of the Cross says, when we are in its deepest centre, we are in God. How simple and consoling it is!

In the midst of all your motherly cares and occupations you can retire into this solitude and give yourself up to the Holy Spirit, so that He may transform you into God, impressing the divine image of His beauty on your soul, in order that, when the Father looks down on you, He may see nothing but His Christ, and may say: “This is my beloved daughter in whom I am well pleased!”

Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906); quoted in The Praise of Glory: Reminiscences of Elizabeth of the Trinity by A Carmelite Nun of Dijon, pp. 130-131.

John of the Cross: The Doctrine that the Son of God Came to Teach Wednesday, Oct 28 2009 

From what has been said it may be seen in some measure how great a distance there is between all that the creatures are in themselves and that which God is in Himself, and how souls that set their affections upon any of these creatures are at as great a distance as they from God; for, as we have said, love produces equality and likeness….

Wherefore, it is supreme ignorance for the soul to think that it will be able to pass to this high estate of union with God if first it void not the desire of all things, natural and supernatural, which may hinder it, according as we shall explain hereafter.

For there is the greatest possible distance between these things and that which comes to pass in this estate, which is naught else than transformation in God. For this reason Our Lord, when showing us this path, said through Saint Luke “he that renounces not all things that he possesses with his will cannot be my disciple” (Lk. 14:33).

And this is evident; for the doctrine that the Son of God came to teach was contempt for all things, whereby a man might receive as a reward the Spirit of God in himself. For, as long as the soul rejects not all things, it has no capacity to receive the Spirit of God in pure transformation.

John of the Cross (1542-1591): Ascent of Mount Carmel, 2,5.