Cyril of Jerusalem: “Wash Yourselves, Make Yourselves Clean, Put Away Your Iniquities From Before My Eyes” Tuesday, Mar 18 2014 

Cyril-of-JerusalemMarch 18th is the feast of St Cyril of Jerusalem….

Disciples of the New Testament and partakers of the mysteries of Christ, as yet by calling only, but ere long by grace also, make you a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek. 18:31), that there may be gladness among the inhabitants of heaven.

For if over one sinner that repenteth there is joy, according to the Gospel (Luke 15:7), how much more shall the salvation of so many souls move the inhabitants of heaven to gladness.

As ye have entered upon a good and most glorious path, run with reverence the race of godliness.

For the Only-begotten Son of God is present here most ready to redeem you, saying, Come unto Me all that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28).

Ye that are clothed with the rough garment of your offences, who are holden with the cords of your own sins, hear the voice of the Prophet saying, Wash you, make you clean, put away your iniquities from before Mine eyes (Isaiah 1:16):  that the choir of Angels may chant over you, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered (Ps. 32:1).

Ye who have just lighted the torches of faith, guard them carefully in your hands unquenched; that He, who erewhile on this all-holy Golgotha opened Paradise to the robber on account of his faith, may grant to you to sing the bridal song.

If any here is a slave of sin, let him promptly prepare himself through faith for the new birth into freedom and adoption; and having put off the miserable bondage of his sins, and taken on him the most blessed bondage of the Lord, so may he be counted worthy to inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Put off, by confession, the old man, which waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit, that ye may put on the new man, which is renewed according to knowledge of Him that created him (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:10).

Get you the earnest of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22) through faith, that ye may be able to be received into the everlasting habitations (Luke 16:9).

Come for the mystical Seal, that ye may be easily recognised by the Master; be ye numbered among the holy and spiritual flock of Christ, to be set apart on His right hand, and inherit the life prepared for you.

For they to whom the rough garment of their sins still clings are found on the left hand, because they came not to the grace of God which is given through Christ at the new birth of Baptism:  new birth I mean not of bodies, but the spiritual new birth of the soul.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 1, 1-2.

Leo the Great: A Man is Made the Body of Christ, because Christ Also is the Body of a Man Thursday, Dec 19 2013 

leo1Such was the state of all mortals resulting from our first ancestors that…no one would have escaped the punishment of condemnation, had not the Word become flesh and dwelt in us, that is to say, in that nature which belonged to our blood and race.

And accordingly, the Apostle says:  “As by one man’s sin (judgment passed) upon all to condemnation, so also by one man’s righteousness (it) passed upon all to justification of life.

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one man’s obedience shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:18, 19);

and again, “For because by man (came) death, by man also (came) the resurrection of the dead.

And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive”  (1 Cor. 15:21, 22).

All they to wit who though they be born in Adam, yet are found reborn in Christ, having a sure testimony both to their justification by grace, and to Christ’s sharing in their nature;

for he who does not believe that God’s only-begotten Son did assume our nature in the womb of the Virgin-daughter of David, is without share in the Mystery of the Christian religion, and, as he neither recognizes the Bridegroom nor knows the Bride, can have no place at the wedding-banquet.

For the flesh of Christ is the veil of the Word, wherewith every one is clothed who confesses Him unreservedly.

[...]  Hence whosoever confesses not the human body in Christ, must know that he is unworthy of the mystery of the Incarnation, and has no share in that sacred union of which the Apostle speaks, saying, “For we are His members, of His flesh and of His bones.

For this cause a man shall leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and there shall be two in one flesh” (Eph. 5:30-32). And explaining what was meant by this, he added, “This mystery is great, but I speak in respect of Christ and the Church.”

Therefore, from the very commencement of the human race, Christ is announced to all men as coming in the flesh.

In which, as was said, “there shall be two in one flesh,” there are undoubtedly two, God and man, Christ and the Church, which issued from the Bridegroom’s flesh, when it received the mystery of redemption and regeneration, water and blood flowing from the side of the Crucified.

For the very condition of a new creature which at baptism puts off not the covering of true flesh but the taint of the old condemnation, is this, that a man is made the body of Christ, because Christ also is the body of a man.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Letter 59, 4.

John Chrysostom: The Great Glistening of the Armour of Light Sunday, Dec 1 2013 

John_ChrysostomOn Romans 13:11-14.

“Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”

Yes, for the day is calling us to battle-array, and to the fight. Yet fear not at hearing of array and arms…. For it is of Light the arms are!

Hence they will set thee forth brighter than the sunbeam, and giving out a great glistening, and they place thee in security,

For they are arms, and glittering do they make thee; for arms of light are they!

What then, is there no necessity for thee to fight? Yea, needful is it to fight, yet not to be distressed and toil.

For it is not in fact war, but a solemn dance and feast-day, such is the nature of the arms, such the power of the Commander.

And as the bridegroom goes forth with joyous looks from his chamber, so doth he too who is defended with these arms. For he is at once soldier and bridegroom.

But when he says, “the day is at hand,” he does not even allow it to be but near, but puts it even now beside us. For he says, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.

[...] In saying, “Put ye on,” he bids us be girt about with Him upon every side. As in another place he says, “But if Christ be in you” (Rom. 8:10). And again, “That Christ may dwell in the inner man” Eph. 3:16-17).

For He would have our soul to be a dwelling for Himself, and Himself to be laid round about us as a garment, that He may be unto us all things both from within and from without.

For He is our fulness; for He is “the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:23): and the Way, and the Husband, and the Bridegroom: for “I have espoused you as a chaste virgin to one husband” (2 Cor. 11:2);

and a root, and drink, and meat, and life:for he says, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20);

and Apostle, and High-Priest, and Teacher, and Father, and Brother, and Joint-heir, and sharer of the tomb and Cross: for it says, “We were buried together with Him,” and “planted together in the likeness of His Death” (Rom. 6:4-5);

and a Suppliant: “For we are ambassadors in Christ’s stead” (2 Cor. 5:20); and an “Advocate to the Father” : for “He also maketh,” it says, “intercession for u:” (Rom. 8:34);

and house and inhabitant: for He says, “He that abideth in Me and I in Him” (John 15:5); and a Friend: for, “Ye are My friends” (John 15:14).

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on the Epistle to the Romans @ Lectionary Central.

Ignatius Brianchaninov: The Heavenly Father’s Infinite and Unspeakable Mercy for Repentant Sinners Sunday, Mar 3 2013 

Ignatius_BrianchaninovWe learn from the Gospel parable [the story of the prodigal son] that for successful and fruitful repentance, a man needs to provide on his part: seeing his own sin, recognizing it, repenting of it, and confession of it.

God sees a person who has made this pledge in heart while he is yet a long way off; He sees him and runs to meet him, embraces and kisses him with His grace.

No sooner had the penitent pronounced his confession of his sin than the merciful Lord commanded the slaves—the servants of the altar and the holy Angels—to clothe him in bright garments of purity;

to place his ring upon his finger as a testimony of his renewed union with the Church both on earth and in heaven;

and to place shoes upon his feet, so that his actions would be protected from spiritual thorns by steadfast ordinances, for that is the meaning of the shoes—Christ’s commandments.

To complete the action of love, a feast of love is held for the returned son, for which a fatted calf is killed.

This feast signifies the Church feast to which the sinner is invited once he has made his peace with God—the spiritual, incorruptible food and drink—Christ—promised long ago to mankind, prepared through the unspeakable mercy of God for fallen man from the very moment of his fall.

[...] What more consoling news could there be for a sinner who stands trembling before the doors of repentance than this news about the Heavenly Father’s infinite and unspeakable mercy for repentant sinners?

This mercy is so great that it amazed the very Angels—the first-born sons of the Heavenly Father, who had never transgressed a single commandment of His.

Their bright, lofty minds could not fathom the unfathomable mercy of God for fallen mankind.

They needed a revelation from on High regarding this subject, and they learned from this revelation that it is meet for them to make merry, and be glad, for their lesser brother—the human race—was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found, through the Redeemer.

There is joy in the presence of the angels of God even over one sinner that repenteth.

[...] May our rejoicing be endless! May it be joined to the rejoicing of the holy Angels of God! May the joy of Angels and men be fulfilled and made perfect through their fulfilling the will of the Heavenly Father!

For, it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones—human beings, deprecated and humiliated by sin—should perish (Mt. 18:14).

Ignatius Brianchaninov (1807–1867; Russian Orthodox): Instruction on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, on Repentance, translated by Nun Cornelia Rees @ Pravoslavie

Augustine of Hippo: The Incarnate Son of God Makes Sons of Men the Sons of God Saturday, Jan 5 2013 

St Augustine of AfricaBeing rich, he became poor for our sake so that by his poverty we might become rich.

When he assumed our mortality and overcame death he manifested himself in poverty: his poverty was not a sign of riches lost but a promise of riches to come later.

[...] Until what is being prepared arrives, we can understand only in part.

To make us worthy of this perfect gift, he, equal to the Father in the form of God, became like us in the form of a servant, and he re-forms us to be like God.

The only Son of God, having become the son of Man, makes many sons of men the sons of God.

Taking on the form of a servant, he takes those who were born and brought up as servants and gives them the freedom of seeing the face of God.

For we are the children of God, and what we shall become has not yet appeared. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

What, then, are those treasures of wisdom and knowledge? What are those divine riches unless they are what is sufficient for us?

What is that multitude of delights unless it is what fills us? Show us the Father and it is sufficient enough for us.

But he and the Father are one, and whoever sees him sees the Father also…; he will show us his face and we shall be saved; we shall be filled, and he will be sufficient for us.

[...] Until this comes to pass, until he gives us the sight of what will completely satisfy us, until we drink our fill of him, the fountain of life — while we wander about, apart from him but strong in faith, while we hunger and thirst for justice, longing with a desire too deep for words for the beautiful vision of God — let us fervently and devotedly celebrate the anniversary of his birth in the form of a servant.

We cannot yet contemplate the fact that he was begotten by the Father before the dawn, so let us hold on to the fact that he was born of the Virgin in the night.

We do not yet understand how his name endures before the sun, so let us acknowledge his tabernacle placed in the sun.

Since we do not, as yet, gaze upon the Only Son inseparably united with His Father, let us remember the Bridegroom coming out of his bride-chamber.

Since we are not yet ready for the banquet of our Father, let us acknowledge the manger of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Sermon 194, 3-4; from the Office of Readings for January 5th @ Universalis.

Hugh of St Victor: If We have Prepared a Place for Him, Jesus will Gladly Come to Us that He might Dwell in Us Wednesday, Dec 19 2012 

Hugh_of_St_VictorMaybe you are asking where this house of God is to be sought, and where it may be found.

God’s house is the whole world; God’s house is the Catholic Church; God’s house is also every faithful soul.

But God inhabits the world in one way, the Church in another, and every faithful soul in yet a third.

He is in the world as ruler of His kingdom; He is in the Church as head of the family in His own home; He is in the soul as the bridegroom in the wedding-chamber.

The heathen and the unbelievers are all of them in His house that is, in His kingdom; for through the power of His Godhead He maintains and governs all that He has made.

False believers are in His house that is, in the Church; for He entrusts participation in His mysteries to all whom He has called to faith.

But the truly faithful are in His house, or rather I should say they are His house, because by dwelling in them through love He owns and rules them.

We are all in His house by our very created condition. We are in His house through the faith whereby He called us. We are in His house through the love whereby He justified us.

If you are in the house of God by your origin only, the devil is there too along with you.

If you are in the house of God by faith, there is still chaff on your threshing-floor together with the wheat.

But if you are in the house of God through love, blessed are you, for not only are you in the house of God, but you yourself have begun to be His house, to the intent that He who made you may also dwell in you.

This is the abode of health, these are the dwellings of the righteous through which the voice of joy and exultation [Cf. Ps. 118, 15] ever rings, wherein the blessed dwell.

Of this, the prophet longed to see the beauty, in it he yearned to dwell, he was on fire with desire for it [Cf. Ps. 84, 2].

If then this dwelling has begun to be in us, let us go in and abide with Him. There, where He ‘whose place is in peace’ [Ps. 76, 2] deigns to make His dwelling, we shall find peace and rest.

But if it has not yet begun to be in us, then let us build it; for, if we have prepared a place for Him, He will gladly come to us who made us that He might dwell in us, even Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hugh of St Victor (c.1096-1141): On the Moral Interpretation of the Ark of Noah, 3 Fr Luke Dysinger, OSB.

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.

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: “Hail, Cross, Our Only Hope!” Friday, Sep 14 2012 

“Hail, Cross, our only hope!”….

At the end of the cycle of ecclesiastical feasts, the Cross greets us through the Heart of the Saviour.

And now, as the church year draws toward an end, it is raised high before us and is to hold us spellbound, until the Easter Alleluia summons us anew to forget the earth for a while and to rejoice in the marriage of the Lamb.

[...] More than ever the Cross is a sign of contradiction. The followers of the Antichrist show it far more dishonur than did the Persians who stole it.

They desecrate the images of the Cross, and they make every effort to tear the Cross out of the hearts of Christians.

All too often they have succeeded even with those who, like us, once vowed to bear Christ’s Cross after him.

Therefore, the Saviur today looks at us, solemnly probing us, and asks each one of us: Will you remain faithful to the Crucified? Consider carefully!

The world is in flames, the battle between Christ and the Antichrist has broken into the open.

If you decide for Christ, it could cost you your life. Carefully consider what you promise.

[...] The arms of the Crucified are spread out to draw you to his heart. He wants your life in order to give you his.

Ave Crux, Spes unica!

The world is in flames. The conflagration can also reach our house.

But high above all flames towers the Cross. They cannot consume it. It is the path from earth to heaven.

It will lift one who embraces it in faith, love, and hope into the bosom of the Trinity.

The world is in flames. Are you impelled to put them out? Look at the Cross.

From the open Heart gushes the Blood of the Saviur. This extinguishes the flames of hell.

Make your heart free by the faithful fulfillment of your vows; then the flood of divine love will be poured into your heart until it overflows and becomes fruitful to all the ends of the earth.

[...] Look at the Crucified. If you are nuptially bound to him by the faithful observance of your holy vows, your being is precious Blood. Bound to him, you are omnipresent as he is.

[...] Your compassionate love takes you everywhere, this love from the divine Heart. Its precious Blood is poured everywhere soothing, healing, saving.

The eyes of the Crucified look down on you asking, probing. Will you make your covenant with the Crucified anew in all seriousness?

What will you answer him? “Lord, where shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Ave Crux, Spes unica!

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942): At the Foot of the Cross; Copyright ICS Publications. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, if this copyright notice is included. Maintained by the Austrian Province of the Teresian Carmel

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: “The Marriage of the Lamb has Come and His Bride has Prepared Herself” Wednesday, Aug 3 2011 

“The marriage of the Lamb has come and his Bride has prepared herself” (Rev 19:7).

St John saw “the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2 and 9ff.).

As Christ himself descended to earth from heaven, so too his Bride, the holy church, originated in heaven.

She is born of the grace of God, indeed descended with the Son of God himself; she is inextricably bound to him.

She is built of living stones; her cornerstone was laid when the Word of God assumed our human nature in the womb of the Virgin.

At that time there was woven between the soul of the divine Child and the soul of the Virgin Mother the bond of the most intimate unity which we call betrothal.

Hidden from the entire world, the heavenly Jerusalem had descended to earth.

From this first joining in betrothal, there had to be born all the living building blocks to be used for the mighty structure: each individual soul awakened to life through grace.

The Bridal Mother was to become the mother of all the redeemed.

Like a spore from which new cells stream continually, she was to build up the living city of God.

This hidden mystery was revealed to St John as he stood beneath the cross with the Virgin Mother and was given over to her as her son.

It was then that the church came into existence visibly; her hour had come, but not yet her perfection.

She lives, she is wedded to the Lamb, but the hour of the solemn marriage supper will only arrive when the dragon has been completely conquered and the last of the redeemed have fought their battle to the end.

Just as the Lamb had to be killed to be raised upon the throne of glory, so the path to glory leads through suffering and the cross for everyone chosen to attend the marriage supper of the Lamb.

All who want to be married to the Lamb must allow themselves to be fastened to the cross with him.

Everyone marked by the blood of the Lamb is called to this, and that means all the baptized. But not everyone understands the call and follows it.

There is a call to following more closely that resounds more urgently in the soul and demands a clear answer. This is the vocation to the religious life, and the answer is the religious vows.

They [those in religious life] want to belong pre-eminently to the Lamb for all eternity, to follow him wherever he goes, and to sing the song of the virgins that no one else can sing (Rev 14:1-5).

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein] (1891-1942): At the Foot of the Cross; Copyright ICS Publications. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, if this copyright notice is included. Maintained by the Austrian Province of the Teresian Carmel

Benedict XVI: The Eucharist is a Wedding-Feast Thursday, Apr 21 2011 

After the bread, Jesus takes the chalice of wine.

The Roman Canon describes the chalice which the Lord gives to his disciples as praeclarus calix (the glorious cup), thereby alluding to Psalm 23 [22], the Psalm which speaks of God as the Good Shepherd, the strong Shepherd.

There we read these words: “You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes … My cup is overflowing” –  calix praeclarus.

The Roman Canon interprets this passage from the Psalm as a prophecy that is fulfilled in the Eucharist.

Yes, the Lord does indeed prepare a banquet for us in the midst of the threats of this world, and he gives us the glorious chalice – the chalice of great joy, of the true feast, for which we all long – the chalice filled with the wine of his love.

The chalice signifies the wedding-feast.

Now the “hour” has come to which the wedding-feast of Cana had mysteriously alluded.

Yes indeed, the Eucharist is more than a meal, it is a wedding-feast.

And this wedding is rooted in God’s gift of himself even to death.

In the words of Jesus at the Last Supper and in the Church’s Canon, the solemn mystery of the wedding is concealed under the expression novum Testamentum (New Testament).

This chalice is the new Testament – “the new Covenant in my blood”, as Saint Paul presents the words of Jesus over the chalice in today’s second reading (1 Cor 11:25).

The Roman Canon adds: “of the new and everlasting covenant”, in order to express the indissolubility of God’s nuptial bond with humanity.

The reason why older translations of the Bible do not say Covenant, but Testament, lies in the fact that this is no mere contract between two parties on the same level, but it brings into play the infinite distance between God and man.

What we call the new and the ancient Covenant is not an agreement between two equal parties, but simply the gift of God who bequeaths to us his love – himself.

Certainly, through this gift of his love, he transcends all distance and makes us truly his “partners” – the nuptial mystery of love is accomplished.

Benedict XVI (b. 1927): Sermon at Mass of the Lord’s Supper, April 9th, 2009 (translation by Zenit).

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