Archive - Weekly Sayings 2013

Archive - Weekly Sayings 2013

December

St Cyril of Alexandria, On the Incarnation

God the Word full by nature and in every way Perfect, and distributing out of His own Fullness His own goods to the creature, we say was emptied: in no wise wronged in His own Proper Nature, nor changed so as to become otherwise, nor made in ought inferior, for inconvertible and unchangeable is Himself also even as He Who begat Him, and never may He be capable of passion. But when He was made Flesh, i.e. Man, He made (as He said, I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh) the poverty of human nature His own; first, in that He was once made man, albeit He remained God; next in that He took the form of a servant, Who is in His own Nature free, as Son, and while He is Himself the Lord of glory He is said to receive glory: Himself Life, He is said to be quickened: and receives power over all, Himself King of all and with God, and Ho was obedient to the Father, suffered the Cross and so on. But these things befit the measure of the human nature, yet He makes them His own with flesh and fulfils the economy, remaining what He was.

St Gregory the theologian, Orations

The very Son of God, older than the ages, the invisible, the incomprehensible, the incorporeal, the beginning of beginning, the light of light, the fountain of life and immortality, the image of the archetype, the immovable seal, the perfect likeness, the definition and word of the Father: he it is who comes to his own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like. He takes to himself all that is human, except for sin. He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, who had been first prepared in soul and body by the Spirit; his coming to birth had to be treated with honor, virginity had to receive new honor. He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit. Spirit gave divinity, flesh received it.

He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity. He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory, that I may share in his fullness. What is this wealth of goodness? What is this mystery that surrounds me? I received the likeness of God, but failed to keep it. He takes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh. He enters into a second union with us, a union far more wonderful than the first.

The Fast of the Incarnation

St Athanasius, Patriachal Letters

Behold my brothers, how much a fast can do, and in what manner the law commands us to fast. It is required that not only with the body should we fast, but with the soul. Now the soul is humbled when it does not follow wicked opinions, but feeds on becoming virtues. For virtues and vices are the food of the soul and it can eat either of these two meats, and incline to either of the two, according to its own will. If it is bent toward virtue, it will be nourished by virtues, by righteousness, by temperance, by meekness and by fortitude. Such was the case with our Lord, Who said, 'My food is to do the will of My Father Who is in heaven' (Jn. 4:34). But if it is not thus with the soul, and it inclines downwards, it is then nourished by nothing but sin.

Archive - Weekly Sayings 2012

Archive - Weekly Sayings 2012

December

St Gregory of Sinai, Philokalia

There are several signs that the energy of the Holy Spirit is beginning to be active ... In some it appears as awe arising in the heart, in other as a tremulous sense of jubilation, in others as joy, in others as joy mingled with awe, or as tremulousness mingled with joy, and sometimes it manifests itself as tears and awe. For the soul is joyous at God's visitation and mercy, but at the same time is in awe and trepidation at His presence because it is guilty of so many sins.

St John Chrysostom, Homily on the statutes

Fasting is a medicine. But like all medicines, though it be very profitable to the person who knows how to use it, it frequently becomes useless (and even harmful) in the hands of him who is unskillfull in its use.

For the honour of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawing from sinful practices, since he who limits his fasting only to abstinence from meats is one who especially disparages fasting.

Do you fast? Give me prood of it by your works.

Abba Poemen, Saying of the desert fathers

Abba Joseph asked Abba Poemen: "How should we fast?" And Abba Poemen said: "I myself think it's good to eat every day a little at a time so as not to get full." Abba Joseph said: " Well, when you were young, didn't you used to fast for two days at a time?" And the old man said: "Believe me, indeed I did, for three days, and even a week. But the great elders tried all of this, and found that it is good to eat every day a little less each time. In this way, they showed us the royal highway, for it is light easy."

St Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John

... the assertion that the Word dwelt in us is a useful one because it also reveals to us a very deep mystery. For we are all in Christ. The common element of humanity is summed up in His passion, which is also why He was called the last Adam: He enriched our common nature with everything conducive to joy and glory just as the first Adam impoverished it with everything bringing corruption and gloom. This is precisely why the Word dwelt in all of us by dwelling in a single human being, so that through that one being who was 'designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness' (Rom 1:4) the whole of humanity might be raised up to His status so that the verse, "I said, you are gods and all of you sons of the Most High" (Ps 82:6) might through applying to one of us come to apply to us all.

Archive - Weekly Sayings 2011

Archive - Weekly Sayings 2011

December 2011

St John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Corinthians

You were bought with a price. Why do you say this? Surely on another ground, one might say perhaps, you should have persuaded men, pointing out that we have a Master. But this is common to the Greeks also together with us: whereas the expression, You were bought with a price. belongs to us peculiarly. For he reminds us of the greatness of the benefit and of the mode of our salvation, signifying that when we were alienated, we were bought: and not simply bought, but, with a price.

St Anthony the great, Saying of the Desert Fathers

When Abba Anthony thought about the depth of the judgments of God, he asked, "Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?" He heard a voice answering him, "Anthony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgment of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.'

St John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew

For nothing is more grievous than wrath and fierce anger. This renders men both puffed up and servile, by the former making them ridiculous, by the other hateful; and bringing in opposite vices, pride and flattery, at the same time. But if we will cut off the greediness of this passion, we shall be both lowly with exactness, and exalted with safety. For in our bodies too all distempers arise from excess; and when the elements thereof leave their proper limits, and go on beyond moderation, then all these countless diseases are generated, and grievous kinds of death. Somewhat of the same kind one may see take place with respect to the soul likewise.

Archive - Weekly Sayings 2010

Archive - Weekly Sayings 2010

October
St John Chrysostom, Letters to Olympias
But how much further shall I pursue the unattainable? for whatever image of our present evils I may seek speech shrinks baffled from the attempt. Nevertheless even when I look at these calamities I do not abandon the hope of better things, considering as I do who the pilot is in all this—not one who gets the better of the storm by his art, but calms the raging waters by his rod. But if He does not effect this at the outset and speedily, such is His custom—He does not at the beginning put down these terrible evils, but when they have increased, and come to extremities, and most persons are reduced to despair, then He works wondrously, and beyond all expectation, thus manifesting his own power, and training the patience of those who undergo these calamities. Do not therefore be cast down. For there is only one thing, Olympias, which is really terrible, only one real trial, and that is sin; and I have never ceased continually harping upon this theme; but as for all other things, plots, enmities, frauds, calumnies, insults, accusations, confiscation, exile, the keen sword of the enemy, the peril of the deep, warfare of the whole world, or anything else you like to name, they are but idle tales.