Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas: Inception of the Transfigured Cosmos


"For Orthodox Christians, we have to realize that first of all the heavens and the earth are not going to be destroyed but transfigured. We look for the transfigured cosmos. There's no reason for God to destroy the works of His own hands, which he said were very good."

--- Archbishop Lazar (Puhalo) of Ottawa, Orthodox Church in America

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This is the Hour of Theology

"In spite of what too many Orthodox people think today, this is the hour of theology. Only a deep, fearless, and constructive evaluation of this situation in the light of the genuine Tradition of the Church, only a creative return to the very springs of our dogma, canons and worship, only a total commitment to the Truth of the Church can help us overcome the crisis and transform it into a revival of Orthodoxy. I know that this task is difficult and that a long tradition has taught theologians to avoid hot issues and not to 'get involved.' I know also that a certain traditionalism which has nothing to do with Tradition has made self-criticism and spiritual freedom a crime against the Church in the eyes of many. I know that too many 'power-structures' have a vested interest in not allowing any question, any search, any encounter with Truth. The forces of inertia, pseudo-conservatism, and plain cynicism are formidable. But the same was true of the time of St. Athanasius the Great, St. John Chrysostom and St. Maximus the Confessor. As for the issues we face today, they are not lesser than those they had to deal with. And it depends on us to choose between pleasant prestige and the responses to the Will of God."

--- Fr. Alexander Schmemann, in Saint Vladimir's Theological Quarterly [Vol. 10.4]

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NB - FFT: Food from Parents in the Faith

"Do you wish to honor the Body of the Savior? Do not despise it when it is naked. Do not honor it in church with silk vestments while outside it is naked and numb with cold. He who said, “This is my body,” and made it so by his word, is the same that said, “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food. As you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me.” Honor him then by sharing your property with the poor. For what God needs is not golden chalices but golden souls."  --- St. John Chrysostom 

"It is pointless for someone to say that he has faith in God if he does not have the works which go with faith. What benefit were their lamps to the foolish virgins who had no oil (Mt. 25:1-13), namely, deeds of love and compassion?"  --- St. Gregory Palamas

“At the Last Judgment, I will not be asked whether I satisfactorily practiced asceticism, or how many bows I have made before the divine altar. I will be asked whether I fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and the prisoner in his jail. That is all I will be asked.”  --- St. Maria (Skobtsova) of Paris

"The purer the heart is, the larger it is, and the more able it is to find room within it for a greater number of beloved ones; whilst the more sinful it is, the more contracted it becomes, and the less number of beloved can it find room for, because it is limited by self-love, and that love is a false one; we love ourselves in objects unworthy of the immortal soul — in silver and gold, in adultery, in drunkenness, and such like." 
--- St John of Kronstadt

"Love calms and agreeably expands the heart and vivifies it, whilst hatred painfully contracts and disturbs it. Those who hate others torture and tyrannize themselves."  --- St John of Kronstadt

"Just as a tempered metal can sharpen soft or rusty metal, so can a zealous brother set a tepid one on the right track."  --- St. John Climacus

"You carefully collect the tears of the righteous, and with them You rejuvenate worlds."  --- St. Nikolai of Ochrid and Zica

"Remember that God, during your prayers, is watching for your affirmative answer to the question which He is inwardly asking you: 'Do you believe I am able to do this?' To which question you must from the depth of your heart reply, 'Yes, Lord' (Mt. 9:28)."  --- St. John of Kronstadt

"Let’s have love, meekness and peace. In that way, we help our sister or brother when they are possessed by evil. Our example radiates mystically, and not only when the person is present, but also when the person is not. Let us strive to radiate our good will. Even when we say something about a person whose way of life does not meet with our approval, the person is aware of it and we repel them. Whereas, if we are compassionate and forgive them, then we influence them—just as evil influences them—even if she or he does not see us."  --- Elder Porphyrios

 "You have heard, my siblings, wheat great things faith in God can bring about when it is confirmed by actions. You will have realized that youth is not to be despised and that without understanding and fear of God old age is useless. You have learnt that the heart of a city cannot prevent us from practising God's commandments so long as we are diligent and watchful, nor can stillness or withdrawal from the world be of any benefit if we are lazy and negligent."  --- St. Syneon the New Theologian, On Faith, Philokalia, Vol. 4

"Beauty is one way to God. It should never be separated from goodness and truth. Beauty without goodness is not beauty; so love for the poor has to be cultivated together with love for beauty... and, of course, with love for the truth."   --- Archbishop Christoph Schonborn of Vienna

"Every created nature is far removed from and completely foreign to the divine nature. For if God is nature, other things are not nature; but if every other thing is nature, He is not a nature, just as He is not a being if all other things are beings. And if He is a being, then all other things are not beings. And if you accept this as true also for wisdom, goodness, and in general all things that pertain to God or are ascribed to Him, then your theology will be correct and in accordance with the saints."  --- St. Gregory Palamas

"Knowledge is an excellent thing; it helps prayer, inciting the power of the mind to the contemplation of Divine knowledge."  --- St. Nilus of Sinai
"Help me Lord to lead a holy life and to do good works, so that those who see me may praise Your Name."
--- St. John Chrysostom

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NB: FFT - Food from the Parents in the Faith

"Blessed is the person who consumes the bread of love, which is Jesus! The one who eats of love eats Christ, the God over all, as John bears witness, saying, 'God is love.'" --- St Isaac of Syria
"Enter eagerly into the treasure-house that lies within you, and so you will see the treasure-house of heaven: for the two are the same, and there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within you, and is found in your own soul. Dive into yourself and in your soul you will discover the rungs by which to ascent." --- St. Isaac the Syrian

"The Eucharist reveals the Church as community--love for Christ, love in Christ--as a mission to turn each and all to Christ. The Church has no other purpose, no 'religious life' separate from the world. Otherwise the Church would become an idol...Only this presence can give meaning and value to everything in life, can refer everything to that experience and make it full. 'The image of this world is passing away.' But only by passing away does the world finally become the 'World': a gift of God, a happiness that comes from being in communion with the content, the form, the image of that 'World.'" --- Fr. Alexander Schmemann
"Prayer does not consist merely in standing and bowing with your body or in reading written prayers: it is possible to pray at all times, in all places, by the mind and spirit. You can lift up your mind and heart to God while walking, sitting, working, in the crowd and in solitude. His door is always open, unlike humanity's. We can always say to Him in our hearts: 'Lord have mercy! Lord have mercy!'" --- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

"Teach us to look on those who think differently from us, who have different religious beliefs or no belief at all, as brothers and sisters." --- Fr. Alexander Men, *Prayer of Christ's Disciples*

'Hell is ignorance, for both are dark; and perdition is forgetfulness, for both involve extinction.' --- St. Mark the Ascetic

"There is a new wonder in heaven and on earth: God is on earth and humanity is in heaven.'  --- St. Thalassios the Libyan 
"Hence, it is right for us to strengthen our spirits, raise our minds, and thrust cowardly fears from our hearts, since, as you see, the Son of God laid down His life for us and took it up again whilst remaining God in every way. God victoriously celebrated a triumph over our death and conveyed our human body with Him to the stars. He considered it insufficient to have drained the entire cup of mortal life for us, so as to remove our wounds by means of His own; He also rose again with the body in which He fell, so that the troubled anxiety of a hesitant mind should not keep me in incertainty. He appeared after His death just as He was before it, and thus the evidence was made crystal-clear to humanity's eyes; for He showed Himself of His own accord to His doubting disciples to be inspected by their eyes and hands." --- St. Paulinus of Nola, *The Poems*
"It is our duty, therefore, to be faithful to God, pure in heart, merciful and kind, just and holy; for these things imprint in us the outlines of the Divine likeness, and perfect us as heirs of eternal life." --- St. Cyril of Alexandria

"Thus the deifying gift of the Spirit is a mysterious light, and transforms into light those who receive its richness; He does not only fill them with eternal light, but grants them a knowledge and a life appropriate to God. Thus, as St. Maximus teaches, St. Paul lived no longer a created life, but 'the eternal life of Him Who indwelt him.' Similarly, the prophets contemplated the future as if it were the present." --- St. Gregory Palamas, *The Triads*
 "The grace of charity is greater than the grace of resurrecting from the dead…No one is saved if she or he does not help others to be saved also." --- St. John Chrysostom
 "...when we say to him: 'Hallowed be thy name,' we are saying in other words: Make us such, Father, that we may deserve to understand and grasp how great your hallowing is and, of course, that you may appear as hallowed in our spiritual way of life. This is effectively fulfilled in us when 'people see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.'" --- St. John Cassian

"God does not only pay attention to the small ones, but also to those who pay attention to the small ones. Do you want Him to love you? Love the small ones. Love the poor. Love the humble." --- Archimandrite Joel Giannakopoulos
"When the intellect turns its attention to the visible world, it perceives things through the medium of the senses in a way that accords with nature. And the intellect is not evil, nor is its natural capacity to form conceptual images of things, nor are the things themselves, nor are the senses, for all are the work of God. What, then, is evil? Clearly it is the passion that enters into the conceptual images formed in accordance with nature by the intellect; and this need not happen if the intellect keeps watch." --- St. Maximos the Confessor
"We do not need to get God’s attention. His attention is immediate and unavoidable."--- Archimandrite Meletios Webber
"Just as the sun's rays are sometimes hidden from the earth by thick cloud, so for a while a person may be deprived of spiritual comfort and of grace's brightness. This is caused by the cloud of the passions. Then, all of a sudden, without that person being aware, it is all given back. Just as the surface of the earth rejoices at the rays of the sun when they break through the clouds, so the words of prayer are able to break through to drive the thick cloud of the passions away from the soul." --- St. Isaac the Syrian
"With regard to self-control in eating, we must never feel loathing for any kind of food, for to do so is abominable and utterly demonic. It is emphatically not because any kind of food is bad in itself that we refrain from it. But by not eating too much or too richly we can to some extent keep in check the excitable parts of our body. In addition we can give to the poor what remains over, for this is the mark of sincere love." --- St. Diadochos of Photiki  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NB - FFT: Food from the Parents in the Faith

"...cold obedience to the rules of the Church, legalistic action based on calculated reason, even punctuality, sobriety, and honest behavior, are not in themselves absolute evidence that our life has a truly Christian quality... All of these things are good, but as long as they are not informed by the spirit of life in Christ, they have no value in the eyes of God." --- St. Theophan the Recluse

 "Indeed every person of sense knows well that most of the charisms of the Spirit are granted to those worthy of them at the time of prayer. 'Ask and it shall be given,' the Lord says. This applies not only to being ravished 'even to the third heaven,' but to all the gifts of the Spirit." --- St. Gregory Palamas

"With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." --- Ephesians 4:2-3

"A bound person cannot run. Nor can the mind, which works like a slave for a certain passion, be able to offer a true prayer, because it is dragged around and wanders here and there on account of impassioned thoughts and cannot remain undisturbed." --- St Nilus

'Blessed the one who has become a good spiritual net and caught many for the good Lord, such a one will greatly praised by the Lord.' --- St. Ephrem of Syria

"Let us too imitate these men [Prophet David, Apostles Paul & Silas], building a wall around our life with the habit of prayer and letting nothing ever prove an obstacle to us. There is, in fact, nothing that can be an obstacle to us provided we are on the alert. Listen, after all, once more the words of the world's teacher: 'In every place raising pure hands in prayer, without anger or conflict' (1 Tim. 2:8). If you keep your mind purified of improper passions you can, whether you are in the market place, at home, on a journey, appearing in court, at sea, at the hotel or in the workplace - wherever you are, you can call on God and obtain your request." --- St. John Chrysostom

"Emmanuel is interpreted `God is with us.' And so, test yourselves, whether in truth God be with us. If we have removed ourselves from evils and become strangers to their inventor, the devil, then in truth God is with us. And if the sweetness of evil deeds has become bitter to us, and we take sweet enjoyment of the desire for good deeds and of having forever a dwelling in the heavens, then in truth God is with us. If we look on all Human beings alike, and if all days (sorrowful and successful) are equal for us, then in truth God is with us. If we love those who hate us, who insult, reproach, despise, oppress us, and cause us detriment just like those who love us, praise us, furnish us gain, and give us repose - then in truth God is with us." --- St. Barsanuphius the Great

"The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge." --- Psalms 46:6-11

"The lever which controls all our activities is the heart. Here are formed the convictions and sympathies which determine the will and give it strength." --- St. Theophan the Recluse, *The Art of Prayer*

"Every created nature is far removed from and completely foreign to the divine nature. For if God is nature, other things are not nature; but if every other thing is nature, He is not a nature, just as He is not a being if all other things are beings. And if He is a being, then all other things are not beings. And if you accept this as true also for wisdom, goodness, and in general all things that pertain to God or are ascribed to Him, then your theology will be correct and in accordance with the saints." --- St. Gregory Palamas 

"Happy is the person who finds wisdom, and the one who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold." --- Proverbs 3:13-14

"It is evident, therefore, that He called human beings gods because they were deified by His grace, and not because they were born of His substance. For He justifies, being just of Himself and not from another; and He deifies, being God of Himself and not by participation in another. But He that justifies does also deify, because by justifying He makes children of God. For, “He has given them the power to become children of God.” If we are made children of God, we are also made gods; but this is by grace adopting, and not by nature begetting." --- St. Augustine  

"My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." --- I John 3:18

"Since love grows within you, so does beauty grow. For love is the beauty of the soul." --- St. Augustine

"For the person who is perfect in love and has reached the summit of dispassion there is no difference between one's own or another's, or between Christians and unbelievers, or between slave and free, or even between male and female. But because that person has risen above the tyranny of the passions and has fixed one's attention on the single nature of humanity, that one looks on all in the same way and shows the same disposition to all. For in that person there is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, bond nor free, but Christ who 'is all, and in all' (Col. 3:11; cf. Gal. 3:28)." --- St. Maximos the Confessor 

"Keep the Feast of the Resurrection. Be a Peter or a John; hasten to the Sepulchre, running together, running against one another, vying in the noble race (cf. Jn. 20:3-4). And even if you be beaten in speed, win the victory of zeal; not looking into the tomb, but going in." --- St. Gregory the Theologian 

"Justifications for us to not do charity are an easy cause for greed." --- Saint Basil the Great

"...God in His wisdom, power and compassion knows how to change for the better the lapses we suffer as a result of our freely-willed perversion." --- St. Gregory Palamas

"Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts; Look down from heaven and see, And visit this vine And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted." --- Psalms 80:14-15 

"The Goodness of God is so rich in graces, that it seeks a cause to have mercy on a person."  --- St. Anthimos of Chios 

"O strange and inconceivable thing! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we were not really crucified and raised again; but our imitation was in a figure, and our salvation in reality. Christ was actually crucified, and actually buried, and truly rose again. And all these things He has freely bestowed upon us, that we, sharing His sufferings by imitation, might gain salvation in reality. O surpassing loving-kindness! Christ received nails in His undefiled hands and feet, and suffered anguish; while on me without pain or toil by the fellowship of His suffering He freely bestows salvation!" --- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

"Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone." --- James 1:13  

"And then at last He for His part lays His hand upon them, saying, 'According to your faith be it unto you.' And this He does to confirm their faith, and to show that they are participators in the good work, and to witness that their words were not words of flattery. For neither did He say, 'Let your eyes be opened,' but, 'According to your faith be it unto you;' which He says to many of them that came unto Him; before the healing of their bodies, hastening to proclaim the faith in their soul; so as both to make them more approved, and to render others more serious. (Mt. 9:30)" --- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on the Gospel of St. Matthew 

"Let mercy outweigh all else in you. Let our compassion be a mirror where we may see in ourselves that likeness and that true image, which belong to the divine nature and divine essence. A hard and unmerciful heart will never be pure." ---St. Isaac the Syrian

“Joy is thankfulness, and when we are joyful, that is the best expression of thanks we can offer the Lord, Who delivers us from sorrow and sin.” --- Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica  

"Grace is not merely faith, but also active prayer. For the latter shows in practice true faith, made living by Jesus, for it comes from the Spirit through love. And so faith is dead and lifeless in one who does not see it active in oneself. More than that - a person has no right to be called faithful, if that one's faith is a bare word and if the person has not in the self a faith made active by love or the Spirit. Thus faith must be made evident by progress in works, or it must act in the light and shine in works, as the divine Apostle says: 'Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works (James 2:18).'" --- St. Gregory of Sinai 

"'For He made us, and not we ourselves. The Lord Himself,' I say, 'made us' (Ps. 98:3). And He also renews us, for in all that He has done and said through His saints from the beginning, He has strained to achieve the mystery of our salvation, which is the renewal of humanity." --- St. Paulinus of Nola 

"The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" --- Matthew 25:40

"A person is perfect in this life when as a pledge of what is to come that one receives the grace to assimilate the self to the various stages of Christ's life. In the life to come perfection is made manifest through the power of deification." --- St. Gregory of Sinai 

"Save Your people, And bless Your inheritance; Shepherd them also, And bear them up forever." --- Psalms 28:9 

"The Cross of the Lord is the monument to His Victory. O marvel of the love of the Word of God for humanity, for it is on our account that He is dishonored so that we may be brought to honor." --- St. Athanasius the Great 

"Through mindfulness of God, you will always reflect on 'whatever is true, whatever is modest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report, whatever is holy and deserving praise' (Phil. 4:8); and in this way you will banish from yourself the pernicious evil of forgetfulness." --- St. Mark the Ascetic 

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." --- Jeremiah 29:11

"In her belly came and dwelt He Who is uncontainable. And by her breasts was nourished God Who sustains the whole creation. On her hand she carried God Who is carried by the Seraphim. And her knees became His throne." --- St. John of Damascus  

"In order to receive the Lord, one must have a well-ordered way of thinking that is capable of it; in order to receive the Lord, one must have a heartfelt will towards it, one must have humble feelings. This did the Archangel Gabriel explain to righteous Zachary, the father of the Forerunner, the Forerunner's service, when he announced his conception and birth. 'Many of the children of Israel,' said the Archangel, 'shall he turn to the Lord their God' (cf. Lk. 1:16-17)" --- St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

"What is desired in a man is kindness." --- Proverbs 19:2 

"It is love that shows who is the true shepherd, for by reason of love the Great Shepherd was crucified." --- St. John Climacus, ad Pastorem 5


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Animals, yet More than Animals

"As the most dominant and influential animals on earth, humans have a responsibility to all other animals."

Human beings are indeed animals and yet more at the same time, having been fashioned into the image of God, to grow into God's likeness. Doesn't make the statement above any less true. Growing into that likeness involves precisely our understanding and living the responsibility we have towards others, our fellow human beings and also our fellow animals with whom we have genetic and material commonality.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

NB: FFT - Food from the Parents in the Faith

"Religion cannot and should never be a basis for war and conflict, nor should it be used as an instrument of fundamentalism and fanaticism for purely political motives and ends." --- Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

"The great plan of God the Father is the secret and unknown mystery of the dispensation which the only-begotten Son revealed by fulfilling in the incarnation, thus becoming a messenger of the great plan of God the eternal Father. The one who knows the meaning of the mystery and who is so incessantly lifted up both in work and in word through all things until he or she acquires what is sent down to them is likewise a messenger of the great plan of God." --- St. Maximus the Confessor

"Invocation of the Name of God the Saviour, uttered in the fear of God, together with constant effort to live in accordance with the commandments, little by little leads to a blessed fusion of all our powers. We must never seek to hurry in our ascetic striving. It is essential to discard any idea of achieving the maximum in the shortest possible time. God does not force us but neither can we compel Him to do anything whatsoever. Results obtained by artificial means do not last long and, more importantly, do not unite our spirit with the Spirit of the Living God." --- Archimandrite Sophrony

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Venerating the Verbal Icon

The Eucharistic Mystery of the Orthodox Church lies not in keeping the Anaphora - the Eucharistic Canon containing the account of salvation history (especially in St. Basil's Liturgy), the institution of the Holy Supper and culminating in the change of the elements - something secret, said only by the celebrating priest for himself, but rather in the wholeness of that change of the gifts into the Body and Blood of Christ and our becoming fully intimate communicants in them. Intimacy and communion implies true knowledge of those with whom we are in intimate communion, and the Holy Anaphora imparts to us that knowledge. By hearing it we take it into ourselves, preparing us to bring ourselves into union with God and with each other.

We all have heard icons referred to as "windows into heaven". By seeing them with the physical eyes and contemplating them, we are drawn into communion with Christ and the Saints and the events depicted upon them. How then should it not be the same with the prayers of the Anaphora which are verbal icons, that by hearing them with the physical ears and contemplating them, we enter into communion and participate in God's oikonomia of salvation history which is depicted in words?

Truly, we should no more think of doing the Holy Anaphora silently than we would of covering up icons with a curtain.

Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver publishes his liturgical encyclicals on the Metropolis website. In one of these, dated 2 August 2008, can be found the following, beginning at the top of page 3:

k. In accordance with the decision of the Eparchial Synod, all prayers are designated to be "Recited by the Priest." The distinctions of "Silently," "Quietly," and "In a low voice," have been suppressed. By directing the Priest to "Recite" the prayers, it is understood that he is allowed the pastoral freedom to say them loud enough so that the faithful can hear them if he deems this to be appropriate in his own parish. He may likewise, also for pastoral reasons, recite certain prayers "Inaudibly."

Speaking the Anaphora aloud is one way to help make the Church truly the place where theosis is made possible, human beings going along the journey to becoming gods by grace, doing so by *actively participating* in the iconic theology of hearing the Holy Anaphora aloud and of seeing the actions of the Offering, just as they see the Saints and the Feasts in the painted icons with which we are all very familiar.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NB: FFT - Food from Parents in the Faith

"We have nothing to fear unless we are afraid of love." --- Fr. Antony Hughes

"Hope, transcending servile fear, binds us to the love of God, since 'hope does not disappoint' (Rom. 5:5), containing as it does the seed of that twofold love on which hang 'the law and the prophets' (Matt. 22:40). And 'love never fails' (I Cor. 13:8), once it has become to the person who shares in it the motive for fulfilling the divine law both in the present life and in the life to be." --- St. Philotheos of Sinai

"The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit." --- Psalms 34:18

"‘But I say to you,’ says the Lord, ‘love your enemies... do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you’ (Matt. 5: 44). Why did He command this? To free you from hatred, irritation, anger and rancour, and to make you worthy of the supreme gift of perfect love. And you cannot attain such love if you do not imitate God and love all men equally. For God loves all men equally and wishes them ‘to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (I Tim. 2: 4)." --- St. Maximos the Confessor

"In the beginning of creation the Creator created humanity in the image of God, while now He has united humanity to God. Then the human race was given authority to rule over the fish and the animals. Now God has raised our new beginning above the heavens. Since the ascended Christ with His holy flesh has become, like the first fruits, the beginning of those who had fallen asleep, He has caused our
entire human race to be blessed through that one flesh and beginning. Before because of sin , nothing was more debased than humanity, while now nothing has become more honored than humanity. Through the resurrected and ascended Christ humanity conquers corruption and acquires incorruption. Humanity conquers death, because death has been entirely defeated and abolished and appears nowhere, while humanity acquires immortality and is deified. Now, indeed, God and humankind have become one race." --- St. John Chrysostom, *On the Ascension*

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Called to be Happy

We hear so much about how happiness is tangential to the Christian life; one eminent Russian Orthodox priest has gone record to say, "It is not correct to say that Our Lord was born to make anyone 'happy.'"

Why ever not??? Certainly He was born to make us happy, something which is part of our theosis, becoming gods by grace. He was born to make us happy and joyful, because that is Who He Is of Whose divine nature we are called to partake... as we sang tonight at the Vesperal Liturgy for the Feast of the Dormition:

"O Joyful Light of the holy glory of the immortal Father, the heavenly, holy,  blessed, O Jesus Christ. Now that we have reached the setting of the sun and behold the evening light, we sing to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is fitting at all times to praise you with happy voices, O Son of God, the Giver of life. Behold, the world sings your glory."

NB: FFT - Food from the Fathers and Mothers

"The one who receives Communion is made holy and Divinized in soul and body in the same way that water, set over a fire, becomes boiling... Communion works like yeast that has been mixed into dough so that it leavens the whole lump; ...Just as by melting two candles together you get one piece of wax, so, I think, one who receives the Flesh and Blood of Jesus is fused together with Him by this Communion, and the person finds that she or he is in Christ and Christ is in them." --- St. Cyril of Alexandria

"If, therefore, we are lovers of learning, we shall also be learned in many things. For by care and toil and the grace of God the Giver, all things are accomplished. `For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the person who knocks it will be opened' (Lk. 11:10). Wherefore let us knock at that very fair garden of the Scriptures, so fragrant and sweet and blooming... Let us not know carelessly but rather zealously and constantly, lest knocking we grow weary. For in this way it will be opened to us. If we read once or twice and do not understand what we read, let us not grow weary, but let us persist, let us talk much, let us inquire." --- St. John of Damascus

"Let brotherly and sisterly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." --- Hebrews 13:1-2

"God is glorified not by mere words, but by works of righteousness, which proclaim the majesty of God far more effectively than words." --- St. Maximos the Confessor

"Feed the needy now or be ready to forever feed the fires of hell, because there is no love in you unless you do it." --- St. John Chrysostom

'For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.' --- Psalm 90:11

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy that one. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." --- 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

"The Inward Temple. There is no need to weep much over the destruction of a church; after all, each of us, according to God's mercy, has or should have his own church—the heart; go in there and pray, as much as you have strength and time. If this church is not well made and is abandoned (without inward prayer), then the visible church will be of little benefit." — Archbishop Barlaam to Abbess M., Russia's Catacomb Saints, p. 281

"Now the voice of the Word is ever a voice of power. At the creation. light shone forth at His command, and again at His order the firmament arose; and similarly all the rest of creation came into being at His creative Word. So too now, when the Word calls a person that has advanced to come unto Him, it is immediately empowered at His command and becomes what the Bridegroom wishes. It is transformed into something divine, and it is transformed from the glory in which it exists to a higher glory by a perfect kind of alteration." --- St. Gregory of Nyssa, *From Glory to Glory*