Cyril of Alexandria: The Mind of Christ and the Advent of the Holy Spirit Tuesday, Jun 10 2014 

cyril_alexandria“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the truth:

for He shall not speak from Himself; but what things soever He shall hear, these shall He speak;

and He shall declare unto you the things that are to come” (John 16;12-13).

The new instruction of the Gospel message belongs not to those who are not yet moulded by the Spirit into newness of life and knowledge, and they cannot as yet contain the mysteries of the Holy Trinity.

The exposition then of the deeper mysteries of the faith is suitably reserved for the spiritual renovation that was to proceed from the Spirit when the mind of those who believed on Christ would no longer allow them to remain in the obsolete letter of the Law but rather induce their conversion to new doctrines and implant in them thoughts enabling them to see a fair vision of the truth.

And that before the Resurrection of our Saviour Christ from the dead, and before partaking of His Spirit, the disciples were…clinging to the legal dispensation, even though the mystery of Christ was clearly superior to it, one might very readily perceive.

[…] When, by being enriched with the grace that is from above and from heaven, they had their strength renewed, according to the Scripture, and had attained to a better knowledge than before, then we hear them boldly saying: But we have the mind of Christ.

By the Mind of Christ they mean nothing else but the advent of the Holy Spirit into their hearts, revealing unto them in due measure all things whatsoever they ought to know and learn.

When then “He,” that is the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the truth. See how free from extravagance the expression is: note the soberness of the phrase. For having told them that the Comforter would come unto them, He called Him the Spirit of Truth, that is, His own Spirit. For He is the Truth.

[…] The Spirit of Truth then, He says, will lead you to complete knowledge of the truth. For as having perfect knowledge of the truth, of which He is also the Spirit, He will make no partial revelation of it to those who worship Him, but will rather engraft in their hearts the mystery concerning it in its entirety.

For even if now we know in part, as Paul says, still, though our knowledge be limited, the fair vision of the truth has gleamed upon us entire and undefiled.

As then no man knoweth the things of a man, according to the Scripture, save the spirit of the man which is in him, in the same way, I think, to use the words of Paul, none knoweth the things of God save the Spirit of God which is in Him.

Since He is My Spirit [says Jesus], and as it were My Mind, He will surely speak to you of the things concerning Me.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, Book 10 [on John 16:12-13].

John Chrysostom: St Joseph and the Flight into Egypt Wednesday, Mar 19 2014 

John_ChrysostomNow the angel having thus appeared, talks not with Mary, but with Joseph, and says… “Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt” (Matthew 2:13).

And he mentions the cause of the flight: “For Herod,” he says, “will seek the young Child’s life.”

Joseph, when he had heard these things, was not offended, and did not say, “The thing is hard to understand; did you not say just now that He would save His people? and now He saves not even Himself, but we must fly, and go far from home, and be a long time away – the facts are contrary to the promise.”

Joseph does not say any of these things (for the man was faithful); neither is he curious about the time of his return; and this though the angel had put it indefinitely thus: “Be thou there until I tell thee.”

But nevertheless, not even at this did he shudder, but submits and obeys, undergoing all the trials with joy. And this because God, who is full of love to man, mingled pleasant things with these hardships.

This indeed is His way with regard to all the saints, making neither their dangers nor their refreshment continual, but weaving the life of all righteous men, out of both the one and the other.

This very thing He did here also. For consider, Joseph saw the Virgin with child. This cast him into agitation and the utmost trouble, for he was suspecting the damsel of adultery.

But straightway the angel was at hand to do away his suspicion, and remove his fears; and seeing the young child born, he reaped the greatest joy.

Again, no trifling danger succeeds this joy, the city being troubled, and the king in his madness seeking after Him that was born. But this trouble was again succeeded by another joy: the star, and the adoration of the wise men.

Again, after this pleasure, fear and danger: “For Herod,” saith he, “is seeking the young Child’s life,” and He must needs fly and withdraw Himself as any mortal might; the working of miracles not being seasonable as yet.

For if from His earliest infancy He had shown forth wonders, He would not have been accounted a Man. Because of this, let me add, neither is a temple framed at once; but a regular conception takes place, and a time of nine months, and pangs, and a delivery, and giving suck, and silence for so long a space, and He awaits the age proper to manhood; that by all means acceptance might be won for the mystery of His Economy.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on the Gospel According to St Matthew, 8, 4.

 

Bernard of Clairvaux: Jesus is a Physician Who Heals the Broken-Hearted and Binds Their Wounds Tuesday, Aug 20 2013 

Heiligenkreuz_Bernard_of_ClervauxThe person who…smarts at the remembrance of past deeds and says to God in bitterness of soul: “Do not condemn me,” or who may still be caught up in the snare of his own evil propensities, still perilously tempted, this person needs a physician, not a bridegroom; hence kisses and embraces are not for him, but only oil and ointments, remedies for his wounds.

Is not this how we too often feel? Is not this our experience at prayer, we who are tempted daily by our passions and filled with remorse for our past sins?

Good Jesus, from what great bitterness have you not freed me by your coming, time after time? When distress has made me weep, when untold sobs and groans have shaken me, have you not anointed my wounded conscience with the ointment of your mercy and poured in the oil of gladness?

How often has not prayer raised me from the brink of despair and made me feel happy in the hope of pardon? All who have had these experiences know well that the Lord Jesus is a physician indeed, “who heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.”

And those who cannot lay claim to experience must for that very reason put their trust in him when he says: “The Spirit of the Lord has anointed me, he has sent me to bring good news to the humble, to bind up the broken-hearted.”

And if they should still be in doubt, let them draw near and put it to the test and so learn by inward experience what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

[…] When men grow weary of studying spiritual doctrine and become lukewarm ~ when their spiritual energies are drained away, then they walk in sadness along the ways of the Lord. T

hey fulfill the tasks enjoined on them with hearts that are tired and arid, they grumble without ceasing, they complain of the long days and the long nights in words like those of Job: “When I lie down I say: ‘When shall I arise?’ And then I shall be waiting for evening.”

If when we are subject to these moods, the compassionate Lord draws near to us on the way we are traveling, and being from heaven begins to talk to us about heavenly truths, sings our favourite air from among the songs of Zion, discourses on the city of God, on the peace of that city, on the eternity of that peace and on the life that is eternal, I assure you that this happy discourse will bear along as in a carriage the man who has grown tired and listless; it drives all trace of aversion from the hearer’s mind and weariness from his body.

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): Sermons on the Song of Songs, 32, 3-4.

Hugh of St Victor: The Repentant Sinner Begins to Trust God’s Mercy when he Feels his Heart Cheered by the Consolation of the Holy Spirit Thursday, Nov 29 2012 

Continued from here…

We have shown you these stages of the disease itself – a wavering heart, unstable and restless;

the cause of the disease – which is clearly love of the world;

and the remedy of the disease – which is the love of God.

And to these must be added a fourth, namely, the application of the remedy, that is, the way in which we may attain to the love of God.

[…] The difference between the love of God and the love of the world is this:

the love of this world seems at the outset sweet, but has a bitter end;

the love of God, by contrast, is bitter to begin with, but is full of sweetness in its end.

This, in a most beautiful allegorical sense, was uttered of our Bridegroom’s wedding.

This is shown by the Gospel when it says: ‘Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine, and only after men have drunk well that which is inferior; but thou hast kept the good wine until now’ [cf John 2:10].

Every man, that is, carnal man, does indeed set forth good wine at the beginning, for he finds a certain spurious sweetness in his pleasure.

But once the rage of his evil longing has saturated his mind, then he provides inferior wine to drink, because a sudden pricking of conscience assails his thought, which till now had enjoyed a spurious delight, and grievously torments him.

Our Bridegroom, on the other hand, offers the good wine last when He allows the heart, which He intends to fill with the sweetness of His love, first to pass beneath the bitter harrow of afflictions.

He does this, so that, having tasted bitterness, the heart may quaff with greater eagerness the most sweet cup of charity.

And this is ‘the first sign’ [cf John 2:11] which Jesus made in His disciples’ presence; and they believed in Him.

For the repentant sinner first begins to trust God’s mercy when he feels his heart cheered by the consolation of the Holy Spirit after long weariness of grief.

Let us then see what we can do to attain the love of God, for He will integrate and stabilize our hearts, He will restore our peace and give us ceaseless joy.

But nobody can love that which he does not know; and so, if we desire to love God, we must first make it our business to know Him, and this especially since He cannot be known without being loved.

For so great is the beauty of His loveliness that no one who sees Him can fail to love Him.

Hugh of St Victor (c.1096-1141): On the Moral Interpretation of the Ark of Noah, 1,2 Fr Luke Dysinger, OSB.

Hippolytus of Rome: When We Stop Praying, the Adversary is Victorious Over Us Saturday, Nov 24 2012 

Daniel…did not yield to fright, for he was ready to become the prey of beasts rather than submit to the decree of the king.

[…] Having returned home, Daniel knelt in prayer in the upper chamber three times a day, with the windows open toward Jerusalem, as was his custom.

Let us contemplate the piety of blessed Daniel. Although he seemed to have much work to do for the king, he continued to be faithful to daily prayer, rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God what belongs to God.

Someone might object: Was it not possible for him to pray to God in the intimacy of his heart during the day, and then, during the night, remain secretly recollected in his home as he desired, and without endangering himself?

Of course, he could have acted in that way, but…the supervisors and the satraps might have said: What is the value of the fear of God, since he is afraid of the king’s edict and is submissive to his commands? And they would have been ready to accuse him of infidelity.

[…] Hence, Daniel did not give his adversaries any ‘pretext’ for de­traction, for whoever submits to a man is that man’s slave.

That is why the blessed Daniel, who had preferred the fear of God and delivered himself to death, was saved from the lions by the angel.

If he had taken the edict into consideration and had remained quiet for thirty days, his faith would not have preserved its purity. No one can serve two masters.

The wily devil exercises his wits to persecute, oppress, bring down the saints, and prevent them from raising their holy hands to God in their prayers.

The devil knows well that the prayer of the saints gives peace to the world and brings chastisements to the wicked, which makes us recall that when Moses in the desert raised his hands, Israel overcame, and when he lowered them, it was Amalek who had the upper hand.

This still takes place for us today. When we stop praying, the adversary is victorious over us; and when we cling to prayer, the power and energy of the Evil One are fruitless.

How powerful are those who trust more in God than in men! Men extinguish all hope and deliver us to death, but God will not abandon his servants.

That is why the psalmist teaches that it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to trust in princes.

Hippolytus of Rome (c.170-c.236): Commentary on Daniel,III, 21-30 (SC 14:242-258); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2.

Thomas More: Faithful Trust in the Word and Promise of God Tuesday, May 15 2012 

This virtue of faith can no man give himself, nor yet any man to another.

But though men may with preaching be ministers unto God therein; and though a man can, with his own free will, obeying freely the inward inspiration of God, be a weak worker with almighty God therein; yet is the faith indeed the gracious gift of God himself.

For, as St. James saith, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is given from above, descending from the Father of lights.”

Therefore, feeling our faith by many tokens very faint, let us pray to him who giveth it to us, that it may please him to help and increase it.

And let us first say with him in the gospel, “I believe, good Lord, but help thou the lack of my belief.” And afterwards, let us pray with the apostles, “Lord, increase our faith.”

And finally, let us consider, by Christ’s saying unto them, that, if we would not suffer the strength and fervour of our faith to wax lukewarm—or rather key-cold—and lose its vigour by scattering our minds abroad about so many trifling things that we very seldom think of the matters of our faith, we should withdraw our thought from the respect and regard of all worldly fantasies, and so gather our faith together into a little narrow room.

And like the little grain of mustard seed, which is by nature hot, we should set it in the garden of our soul, all weeds being pulled out for the better feeding of our faith.

Then shall it grow, and so spread up in height that the birds—that is, the holy angels of heaven—shall breed in our soul, and bring forth virtues in the branches of our faith.

And then, with the faithful trust that through the true belief of God’s word we shall put in his promise, we shall be well able to command a great mountain of tribulation to void from the place where it stood in our heart, whereas with a very feeble faith and faint, we shall be scantly able to remove a little hillock.

Thomas More (1478-1535): Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation 1, 2.

Cyril of Alexandria: We shall Rejoice in Our Salvation, for God will Give Rest upon this Mountain Sunday, Dec 4 2011 

Death prevailed and swallowed us up, but God has wiped away the tears from every face.

Death had power over Adam, our first parent, because of his sin, and like some savage and cruel beast, it attacked him and carried him off.

After that lamentations, wailings, tears, and mourning for the dead were the lot of all who dwelt upon earth.

But in Christ they came to an end. Coming to life again on the third day, he trampled death under foot and became the way by which we were to escape corruption.

Christ became the firstborn from the dead and the firstfruits of all who had fallen asleep.

Now the firstfruits, the one who comes first, will undoubtedly be followed later by others, that is by us.

And so sorrow has been turned into joy; we are no longer clad in mourning but girded with a God-given gladness that inspires the jubilant cry: Death, where is your victory? Grave, where is your sting?

And in that day they will say: Behold your God in whom we have trusted and exulted.

We shall rejoice in our salvation, for God will give rest upon this mountain.

In other words, you will recognise the one who fills the cup of gladness with wine and anoints with sweet oil the inhabitants of the spiritual Zion.

You will recognise him to be truly God and by his very nature the Son of God, even though for the life and salvation of all he appeared in the nature of a slave and became in every respect except sin a man like those who live upon earth.

Behold our God in whom we have trusted. We have exulted in our salvation.

[…] Behold, our God, and will proclaim that God will give rest upon this mountain.

The mountain referred to must surely be the Church, for it is there that rest is given.

We have heard the words of Christ: Come to me, all who are weary and overburdened and I will give you rest.

By faith in Christ we have laid aside the grievous, the insupportable burden of sin.

And we have been given rest in another way too, for we have been delivered from dread of the punishment we should have had to suffer for our sins.

Nor are these the only effects of the presence in us of the grace of Christ our Saviour.

We have in addition the hope of blessings yet to come, the kingdom of heaven, eternal life, and freedom from every cause of distress.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on Isaiah Lib. 3, t. 1 (PG 70, 563-566), from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Sunday of the 2nd Week in Advent, Year 2.

Basil the Great: Your Boasting and Hope Lie in Putting to Death All that is Your Own and Seeking the Future Life that is in Christ Monday, Mar 28 2011 

St-Basil-the-GreatScripture says: The man who boasts must boast of this, that He knows and understands that I am the Lord.

Here is man’s greatness, here is man’s glory and majesty: to know in truth what is great, to hold fast to it, and to seek glory from the Lord of glory.

The Apostle tells us: The man who boasts must boast of the Lord.

He has just said: Christ was appointed by God to be our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written, a man who boasts must boast of the Lord.

Boasting of God is perfect and complete when we take no pride in our own righteousness but acknowledge that we are utterly lacking in true righteousness and have been made righteous only by faith in Christ.

Paul boasts of the fact that he holds his own righteousness in contempt and seeks the righteousness in faith that comes through Christ and is from God.

He wants only to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to have fellowship with his sufferings by taking on the likeness of his death, in the hope that somehow he may arrive at the resurrection of the dead.

[…] Humanity, there is nothing left for you to boast of, for your boasting and hope lie in putting to death all that is your own and seeking the future life that is in Christ.

Since we have its first fruits we are already in its midst, living entirely in the grace and gift of God.

It is God who is active within us, giving us both the will and the achievement, in accordance with his good purpose.

Through his Spirit, God also reveals his wisdom in the plan he has preordained for our glory.

God gives power and strength in our labours. I have toiled harder than all the others, Paul says, but it is not I but the grace of God, which is with me.

God rescues us from dangers beyond all human expectation.

We felt within ourselves that we had received the sentence of death, so that we might not trust ourselves but in God, who raises the dead; from so great a danger did he deliver us, and does deliver us; we hope in him, for he will deliver us again.

Basil the Great (330-379): Homily on Humility and Pride, taken from the Office of Readings for Monday of the Third week of Lent @ Crossroads Initiative.

Columba Marmion: Trusting in the Prayer of Jesus Our High Priest Monday, Mar 21 2011 

On the day of his ascension Christ, the supreme high priest of the human race, having conferred on us a legal title, bears us up with him in hope to heaven.

We must never forget that it is only through him that we can gain entrance there.

No human being can penetrate the Holy of Holies except with him; no creature can enjoy eternal happiness except in the wake of Jesus; it is his precious merits that win us infinite bliss.

For all eternity we shall say to him, “Because of you, Jesus Christ, because of the blood you shed for us, we stand before God’s face.

“It is your sacrifice, your immolation, that wins our every moment of glory and happiness.

To you, the Lamb that was slain, be all honour and praise and thanksgiving!”

In this interval of time until Christ comes to fetch us as he promised, he is preparing a place for us, and above all he is supporting us by his prayer.

Indeed, what is our High Priest doing in heaven? The Letter to the Hebrews gives the answer: he has entered heaven in order to stand now in God’s presence our behalf.

His priesthood is eternal, and therefore eternal too is his work as mediator. How infinitely powerful is his influence!

There he stands before his Father, unceasingly offering him that sacrifice recalled by the marks of the wounds he has voluntarily retained; there he stands, alive for ever, ever interceding for us.

As high priest he is unfailingly heard, and for our sake he speaks again the priestly prayer of the last supper:

Father it is for them that I pray. They are in the world. Guard those whom you have given me. I pray for them, that they may have in themselves the ­fullness of joy. Father, I will that they may be with me where I am.

How could these sublime truths of our faith fail to inspire us with unwavering confidence?

People of scanty faith though we are, what have we to fear? And what may we not hope?

Jesus is praying for us, and praying always. Let us then trust absolutely in the sacrifice, the merits, and the prayer of our High Priest.

He is the beloved Son in whom the Father delights; how could he be refused a hearing, after showing his Father such love?

Father, look upon your Son. Through him and in him grant us to be one day where he is, so that through him and with him we may also render to you all honour and glory.

Columba Marmion (1858-1923): Christ in His Mysteries, 2.16.5; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent, Year 1.

John Henry Newman: Do Not Despair – He Gives Grace by Little and Little Monday, Oct 18 2010 

And if you are conscious that your hearts are hard, and are desirous that they should be softened, do not despair.

All things are possible to you, through God’s grace. Come to Him for the will and the power to do that to which He calls you.

He never forsakes anyone who calls upon him. He never puts any trial on a man but He gives Him grace to overcome it.

Do not despair then; nay do not despond, even though you do come to Him, yet are not at once exalted to overcome yourselves.

He gives grace by little and little. It is by coming daily into His presence, that by degrees we find ourselves awed by that presence and able to believe and obey Him.

Therefore if any one desires illumination to know God’s will as well as strength to do it, let him come to Mass daily, if he possibly can.

At least let him present himself daily before the Blessed Sacrament, and, as it were, offer his heart to His Incarnate Saviour, presenting it as a reasonable offering to be influenced, changed and sanctified under the eye and by the grace of the Eternal Son.

And let him every now and then through the day make some short prayer or ejaculation, to the Lord and Saviour, and again to His Blessed Mother, the immaculate most Blessed Virgin Mary, or again to his guardian Angel, or to his Patron Saint.

Let him now and then collect his mind and place himself, as if in heaven, in the presence of God; as if before God’s throne; let him fancy he sees the All-Holy Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

These are the means by which, with God’s grace, he will be able in course of time to soften his heart—not all at once, but by degrees; not by his own power or wisdom, but by the grace of God blessing his endeavour.

Thus it is that Saints have begun. They have begun by these little things, and so become at length Saints. They were not saints all at once, but by little and little.

And so we, who are not saints, must still proceed by the same road; by lowliness, patience, trust in God, recollection that we are in His presence, and thankfulness for His mercies.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Catholic Sermons of Cardinal Newman, 3: The Calls of Grace.

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