Cyril of Alexandria: Christ is the vine, and we are dependent on Him as branches, drinking in by the Spirit spiritual power to bear fruit Sunday, Jul 24 2016 

cyril_alexandriaContinued from here….

If we are convinced that the Son is really and truly in His own Father, and He has Him that begat Him in His own nature, and all things are brought to perfection by Both in the Spirit as by One Divinity, neither will the Father be without His share in nourishing us, nor can the Son be thought not to partake in His husbandry.

For where Their identity of nature is seen in unmistakeable language, there too there is no division of activity, though any one may think that they have manifold diversities of operations.

And, as there is one Substance, that is the true and real Godhead conceived of in three Persons, that is in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, is it not extremely clear and incontrovertible that when we speak of an activity of one, it is a function of the One and entire Divinity, in the way of inherent power?

Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ, accepting His Father as His Fellow-worker in all He did, once…said: Many good works have I showed you from My Father: for which of those works do ye stone Me? And again, about working on the Sabbath-day: My Father worketh even until now, and I work. 

And no one would think He said that the Father acts separately in His dealings with the world, and so also the Son. For since the Father does all things by the Son, and could not otherwise act, as He is His wisdom and power, for this reason He, on the other hand, called the Father the doer of His own works, when He said: I do nothing of Myself; but the Father abiding in Me doeth His works. 

I think, therefore, we ought to take this view and no other, that Christ takes the place of the vine, and we are dependent on Him as branches, enriched as it were by His grace, and drinking in by the Spirit spiritual power to bear fruit.

[…] Christ, being as it were the root, is the Vine, and we are the branches. And if He called the Father the Husbandman, do not think that He spoke of Him as being different in substance.

For He does not mean this, as we have said; but wishes to point out that the Divine Nature is the root and origin in us of the power of producing the fruits of the Spirit of life, besides the blessings we have spoken of, tending us like a husbandman, and extending over those who are called by faith to partake in it the providence of love.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, Book 10 (on John 15:1ff).

Advertisements

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.

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].

Cyril of Alexandria: The rectification of our condition is the function of the whole sacred and consubstantial Trinity Wednesday, Jun 1 2016 

cyril_alexandriaContinued from here….

I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman (John 15:1).

And when He calls the Father Husbandman, why does He give Him this title?

For the Father is not idle or inert in His dealings with us, and while the Son nourishes us and sustains us in a perfect state by the Holy Spirit, the rectification of our condition is as it were the function of the whole sacred and consubstantial Trinity, and the will and power to do all the actions done by It pervades the whole Divine Nature. 

Therefore It is glorified by us in its entirety, and in one single aspect. For we call God a Saviour, not gaining the graces which are compassionately bestowed upon us partly from the Father, and partly from the Son Himself or the Holy Spirit, but calling our salvation the work of One Divinity.

And if we must apportion the gifts which are bestowed upon us, or those activities which They display about creation, to each person of the Trinity separately, none the less do we believe that everything proceeds from the Father by the Son in the Spirit.

You will think then quite rightly that the Father nourishes us in piety by the Son in the Spirit. He husbands us, that is He watches over us, and cares for us, and deems us worthy of His sustaining providence by the Son in the Spirit.

[…]  For it is the function of the vine to nourish the branches, and of the tiller of the soil to tend them. And if we think aright, we shall believe that neither the one function, if performed apart from the Father, nor the other apart from the Son or the Holy Ghost, could sustain the whole. For all proceeds from the Father by the Son in the Spirit, as we have said.

Very appropriately now the Saviour called the Father a Husbandman, and it is not at all difficult to assign the cause. For it was to the intent that no one might think that the Only-Begotten merely exercised care over us that He represents God the Father as co-operating with Him, calling Himself the Vine that quickens His own branches with life and productive power, and the Father a Husbandman, and for this reason teaching us that providential care over us is a sort of distinct activity of the Divine Substance.

For we were bound to know that God did not only make us partakers of His nature, conceived of as belonging to the Holy and consubstantial Trinity, but also He watches over us with, the most diligent care, which is illustrated to us very appropriately on this occasion by the figure of husbandry.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, Book 10 (on John 15:1ff).

Athanasius of Alexandria: One God who is above all things and through all things and in all things Sunday, May 22 2016 

AthanasiusWe acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being.

It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit; and in this way the unity of the Holy Trinity is preserved.

Accordingly in the Church one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things.

God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.

Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.

Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father.

Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word.

This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.

This is also Paul’s teaching in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.

Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the communion of the Spirit himself.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): Letter 1.28-30 (PG 26:594-595, 599); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Trinity Sunday, Year 1.

John Damascene: After He had placed man in communion with Himself, He led him up through communion with Himself to incorruption Wednesday, Apr 20 2016 

John-of-Damascus_01The Father is Father and not Son.

The Son is Son and not Father.

The Holy Spirit is Spirit and not Father or Son.

For the individuality is unchangeable. How, indeed, could individuality continue to exist at all if it were ever changing and altering?

Wherefore the Son of God became Son of Man in order that His individuality might endure.

For since He was the Son of God, He became Son of Man, being made flesh of the holy Virgin and not losing the individuality of Sonship.

Further, the Son of God became man in order that He might again bestow on man that favour for the sake of which He created him.

For He created him after His own image, endowed with intellect and free-will, and after His own likeness, that is to say, perfect in all virtue so far as it is possible for man’s nature to attain perfection.

For the following properties are, so to speak, marks of the divine nature: viz. absence of care and distraction and guile, goodness, wisdom, justice, freedom from all vice.

He placed man in communion with Himself – for having made him for incorruption (Wisd. 2:23), He led him up through communion with Himself to incorruption.

Through the transgression of the command we confused and obliterated the marks of the divine image, and, having become evil, we were stripped of our communion with God – for what communion hath light with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14)?

And, having been shut out from life we became subject to the corruption of death.

After all this, since He gave us to share in the better part, and we did not keep it secure, He shares in the inferior part, I mean our own nature.

He does this in order that – through Himself and in Himself – He might renew that which was made after His image and likeness;

and that He might teach us, too, the conduct of a virtuous life, making through Himself the way thither easy for us;

and that He might by the communication of life deliver us from corruption, becoming Himself the firstfruits of our resurrection;

that He might renovate the useless and worn vessel calling us to the knowledge of God;

and that He might redeem us from the tyranny of the devil, and might strengthen and teach us how to overthrow the tyrant through patience and humility.

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

Justin Popovich: By unceasing enactment of the ascetic efforts set forth in the Gospels, Saints gradually fill themselves with the Holy Spirit Wednesday, Apr 13 2016 

JustinThe holiness of the Saints—both the holiness of their souls and of their bodies—derives from their zealous grace-and-virtue-bestowing lives in the Body of the Church of Christ, of the God-Man.

In this sense, holiness completely envelopes the human person—the entire soul and body and all that enters into the mystical composition of the human body.

The holiness of the Saints does not hold forth only in their souls, but it necessarily extends to their bodies; so it is that both the body and the soul of a saint are sanctified.

Thus we, in piously venerating the Saints, also venerate the entire person, in this manner not separating the holy soul from the holy body.

Our pious veneration of the Saints’ relics is a natural part of our pious respect for and prayerful entreaty to the Saints. All of this constitutes one indivisible ascetic act, just as the soul and body constitute the single, indivisible person of the Saint.

Clearly, during his life on the earth, the Saint, by a continuous and singular grace-and virtue-bestowing synergy of soul and body, attains to the sanctification of his person, filling both the soul and body with the grace of the Holy Spirit and so transforming them into vessels of the holy mysteries and holy virtues.

It is completely natural, again, to show pious reverence both to the former and to the latter, both to soul and body, both of them holy vessels of God’s grace.

When the charismatic power of Christ issues forth, it makes Grace-filled all the constituent parts of the human person and the person in his entirety.

By unceasing enactment of the ascetic efforts set forth in the Gospels, Saints gradually fill themselves with the Holy Spirit, so that their sacred bodies, according to the word of the holy Apostle, become temples of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19; 3:17), Christ dwelling by faith in their hearts (Ephesians 3:17) and by fruitful love also fulfilling the commandments of God the Father.

Establishing themselves in the Holy Spirit through grace-bestowing ascetic labors, the Saints participate in the life of the Trinity, becoming sons of the Holy Trinity, temples of the Living God (II Corinthians 6:16); their whole lives thus flow from the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.

By piously venerating the holy relics of the Saints, the Church reveres them as temples of the Holy Spirit, temples of the Living God, in which God dwells by Grace even after the earthly death of the Saints.

And by His most wise and good Will, God creates miracles in and through these relics. Moreover, the miracles which derive from the holy relics witness also to the fact that their pious veneration by the people is pleasing to God.

Justin Popovich (1894-1979): The Place of Holy Relics in the Orthodox Church @ OCIC.

Gregory Nazianzen: “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do” Tuesday, Jan 26 2016 

St.-Gregory-Nazianzen“The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do” (John 5:19).

“All things that the Father hath are the Son’s” (John 16:15), and on the other hand, all that belongs to the Son is the Father’s.

Nothing then is peculiar, because all things are in common.  For Their Being itself is common and equal, even though the Son receive it from the Father.

It is in respect of this that it is said “I live by the Father” (John 6:57); not as though His Life and Being were kept together by the Father, but because He has His Being from Him beyond all time, and beyond all cause.

But how does He see the Father doing, and do likewise?

Is it like those who copy pictures and letters, because they cannot attain the truth unless by looking at the original, and being led by the hand by it?

But how shall Wisdom stand in need of a teacher, or be incapable of acting unless taught?

And in what sense does the Father “do” in the present or in the past?  Did He make another world before this one, or is He going to make a world to come?  And did the Son look at that and make this?  Or will He look at the other, and make one like it?

[…]  He cleanses lepers, and delivers men from evil spirits, and diseases, and quickens the dead, and walks upon the sea, and does all His other works. But in what case, or when did the Father do these acts before Him?

Is it not clear that the Father impressed the ideas of these same actions, and the Word brings them to pass, yet not in slavish or unskilful fashion, but with full knowledge and in a masterly way, or, to speak more properly, like the Father?

For in this sense I understand the words that whatsoever is done by the Father, these things doeth the Son likewise – not, that is, because of the likeness of the things done, but in respect of the authority.

This might well also be the meaning of the passage which says that the Father worketh hitherto and the Son also (John 5:17); and not only so but it refers also to the government and preservation of the things which He has made, as is shown by the passage which says that “He maketh His angels spirits” (Psalm 103. 4-5, LXX) and that “the earth is founded upon its steadfastness” (though once for all these things were fixed and made) and that the thunder is made firm and the wind created (cf. Amos 4:13).

Of all these things the Word was given once, but the action is continuous even now.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 30, 11 (slightly adapted).

John Damascene: We believe also in one Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life Friday, Dec 4 2015 

John-of-Damascus_01Feast of St John Damascene (December 4th).

We believe also in one Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life;

Who proceedeth from the Father and resteth in the Son;

the object of equal adoration and glorification with the Father and Son, since He is co-essential and co-eternal;

the Spirit of God, direct, authoritative, the fountain of wisdom, and life, and holiness;

God existing and addressed along with Father and Son;

uncreate, full, creative, all-ruling, all-effecting, all-powerful, of infinite power, Lord of all creation and not under any lord;

deifying, not deified; filling, not filled;

shared in, not sharing in; sanctifying, not sanctified;

the intercessor, receiving the supplications of all

in all things like to the Father and Son;

proceeding from the Father and communicated through the Son, and participated in by all creation;

through Himself creating, and investing with essence and sanctifying, and maintaining the universe;

having subsistence, existing in its own proper and peculiar subsistence, inseparable and indivisible from Father and Son, and possessing all the qualities that the Father and Son possess, save that of not being begotten or born.

For the Father is without cause and unborn, for He is derived from nothing, but derives from Himself His being, nor does He derive a single quality from another.

Rather He is Himself the beginning and cause of the existence of all things in a definite and natural manner.

But the Son is derived from the Father after the manner of generation, and the Holy Spirit likewise is derived from the Father, yet not after the manner of generation, but after that of procession.

And we have learned that there is a difference between generation and procession, but the nature of that difference we in no wise understand.

Further, the generation of the Son from the Father and the procession of the Holy Spirit are simultaneous.

All then that the Son and the Spirit have is from the Father, even their very being; and unless the Father is, neither the Son nor the Spirit is.

And unless the Father possesses a certain attribute, neither the Son nor the Spirit possesses it;

and through the Father, that is, because of the Father’s existence, the Son and the Spirit exist;

and through the Father, that is, because of the Father having the qualities, the Son and the Spirit have all their qualities, those of being unbegotten, and of birth and of procession being excepted.

For in these hypostatic or personal properties alone do the three holy hypostases differ from each other, being indivisibly divided not by essence but by the distinguishing mark of their proper and peculiar hypostasis.

John Damascene (c.675-749): De Fide Orthodoxa 1,8.

Ambrose of Milan: The holy patriarch offered sacrifice in the secret recesses of his heart to the Trinity Monday, Oct 5 2015 

ambrose_of_milan‘Then he [Abraham] set out on his journey and on the third day came to a place which God had indicated to him’ (Gen. 22:4).

Abraham’s purpose needed the quality of continuity and perpetuity, for time is tripartite, taking in, as it does, the past, the present, and the future.

By this we are admonished that there should not be any trace of forgetfulness of the beneficence of God whether in the past, present, or future.

We should, rather, be steadfast in the recollection of His grace and in our compliance with His command.

Another reason for this reference to time lies in the fact that the person who performs a sacrifice ought to put his trust in the brilliant light of the Trinity.

For him whose sacrifice is grounded in faith has ever around him the light of day. For him there is no night.

So in Exodus Moses says: ‘We will go three days’ journey to sacrifice unto the Lord our God’ (2 Exod. 3:18).

Elsewhere, too, when God appeared to Abraham by the oak of Mamre, we are told that ‘Abraham raised his eyes and saw three men standing at a distance from him.

As soon as he saw them he ran to the entrance of the tent door to meet them and bowed down to the earth and said: My Lord, if I have found favor with you’ (Gen. 18:2, 3).

He beholds three and one he adores. He offers three measures of fine flour (cf. Gen. 18:6).

Although God is immeasurable, He nevertheless holds the measure of all things, as it is written: ‘Who hath measured the waters in his hand and weighed the heavens with his palm and the bulk of the earth in the hollow of his hand? (Isa. 40:12).

The holy patriarch, therefore, offered sacrifice in the secret recesses of his heart to the Trinity made perfect in each of the Persons.

This is the spiritual meaning of the measures of fine flour. This is the measure of fine flour mentioned in the Gospel which was ground by the woman who ‘will be taken’. ‘One will be taken; the other will be left’ (Matt. 24:41).

The Church ‘will be taken’; the Synagogue ‘will be left’, or the man of good conscience will be taken and the man of bad conscience, left.

That you may know that Abraham believed in Christ, we read; ‘Abraham saw my day and was glad’ (John 8:56).

He who believes in Christ believes, too, in the Father, and who believes in the Father believes, too, in the Son and Holy Spirit.

There were three measures, therefore, and one substance of fine flour. This means that there was one sacrifice which was offered to the Blessed Trinity.

Ambrose of Milan (c. 337-397): Cain and Abel, book 1, chapter 8, 29-30, in St Ambrose: Hexameron, Paradise, and Cain and Abel, tr. John J. Savage, Catholic Univeristy of America Press, 1961, pp. 386-388.

Next Page »