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.

November 2011

St John Chrysostom, Homily

For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the stumblings of sinners by force...it is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion. We neither have authority granted us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we know how to use it, since God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice.

October 2011

St Isaac the Syrian, Ascetic Practices

Someone who bears a grudge while he prays is like a person who sows in the sea and expects to reap a harvest.

St John Chrysostom, Homily on Romans

How great punishment must they deserve, who, far from themselves forgiving, do even entreat God for vengeance on their enemies, and as it were diametrically transgress this law; and this while He is doing and contriving all, to hinder our being at variance one with another? For since love is the root of all that is good, He, removing from all sides whatever mars it, brings us together, and cements us to each other.

St Cyril of Alexandria, Homily on John

Shall we then abandon what we are by nature and mount up to the divine and unutterable essence, and shall we depose the Word of God from his very sonship and sit in place of him with the Father and make the grace of him who honours us a pretext for impiety? May it never be! Rather, the Son will remain unchangeably in that condition in which he is, but we, adopted into sonship and gods by grace, shall not be ignorant of what we are.

September 2011

St Athanasius, On the incarnation of the Word

So here, once more, what possible course was God to take? To demand repentance of men for their transgression? For this one might pronounce worthy of God; as though, just as from transgression men have become set toward corruption, so from repentance they may once more be set in the way of incorruption. But repentance would, firstly, fail to guard the just claim of God. For he would still be none the more true, if men did not remain in the grasp of death; nor, secondly, does repentance call men back from what is their nature - it merely stays them from acts of sin. Now, if there were merely a misdemeanor in question, and not a consequent corruption, repentance were well enough. But if, when transgression had once gained a start, men became involved in that corruption which was their nature, and were deprived of the grace which they had, being in the image of God, what further step was needed? or what was required for such grace and such recall, but the Word of God, which also at the beginning made everthing out of nought? For his it was once more both to bring the corruptible to incorruption, and to maintain intact the just claim of the Father upon all. For being Word of the Father, and above all, he alone of natural fitness was both able to re-create everything, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be ambassador for all with the Father.

St John Climacus, Ladder of Divine Ascent

The whole essence and effort of the devil is to separate and remove our attention from God and entice it toward worldly concerns and pleasures. He works interiorly, in the heart, suggesting good works and resolutions and reasonable, or rather unreasonable, thoughts. We must not pay the slightest attention to these things. The spiritual combat consists in keeping the mind fixed on God, in not entertaining or approving impure thoughts, and in not paying any attention to the phantasms which the detestable, diabolic picture maker stirs up in our imagination.

St Ireneaus, Adv. haeres

Separation from God is death, separation from light is darkness... and it is not the light which brings upon them the punishment of blindness.

St Gregory of Nyssa, Homilies

We surely ought not to think that what is referred to as ‘hell’ is a place, but a state of life, invisible and incorporeal, to which Scripture teaches us that souls lead.

August 2011

St Isaac the Syrian, Ascetic Discourses

From ages and generation God’s way is carved out by the Cross and death. Where did you get this idea of treading the way of God in comfort?...The way of God is a daily cross. No one has ascended to Heaven through the easy life. We know where the easy way leads.

St Cyril the great, Commentary on John

For we have all become partakers of Him, and have Him in ourselves through the Spirit. For this reason we have become partakers of the divine nature and are called sons.

St Irenaeus, Adv. haeres

For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.

St Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks

The Word of God, became man just that you may learn from a Man how it may be that man should become god.

St Gregory the theologian, Orations

For He Whom you now treat with contempt was once above you. He Who is now Man was once the Uncompounded. What He was He continued to be; what He was not He took to Himself. In the beginning He was, uncaused; for what is the Cause of God? But afterwards for a cause He was born. And that came was that you might be saved, who insult Him and despise His Godhead, because of this, that He took upon Him your denser nature, having converse with Flesh by means of Mind. While His inferior Nature, the Humanity, became God, because it was united to God, and became One Person because the Higher Nature prevailed in order that I too might be made God so far as He is made Man.

July 2011

St Basil the great, On the Holy Spirit

He [the Holy Spirit] makes them spiritual by fellowship with Himself. Just as when a sunbeam falls on bright and transparent bodies, they themselves become brilliant too, and shed forth a fresh brightness from themselves, so souls wherein the Spirit dwells, illuminated by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual, and send forth their grace to others. Hence comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of mysteries, apprehension of what is hidden, distribution of good gifts, the heavenly citizenship, a place in the chorus of angels, joy without end, abiding in God, the being made like to God, and, highest of all, the being made God.

St Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word

For He was made man that we might be made God ; and He manifested Himself by a body that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father; and He endured the insolence of men that we might inherit immortality. For while He Himself was in no way injured, being impossible and incorruptible and very Word and God, men who were suffering, and for whose sakes He endured all this, He maintained and preserved in His own impassibility.

St Cyril the Great, Epistle to Nestorious

the Word having personally united to himself flesh animated by a rational soul, did in an ineffable and inconceivable manner become man, and was called the Son of Man, not merely as willing or being pleased to be so called, neither on account of taking to himself a person, but because the two natures being brought together in a true union, there is of both one Christ and one Son; for the difference of the natures is not taken away by the union, but rather the divinity and the humanity make perfect for us the one Lord Jesus Christ by their ineffable and inexpressible union.

St Clement of Rome, First epistle

But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.

June 2011

St Anthony the great, Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Oppose the devil and try to discern his wiles. He usually hides his gall under an appearance of sweetness, so as to avoid detection, and he fabricates various illusions, beautiful to look at – which in reality are not at all what they seem – to seduce your hearts by a cunning imitation of truth, which is rightly attractive. All his art is directed to this end – to oppose by all possible means every soul working well for God. Many and varied are the passions he introduces into the soul to quench the Divine fire, in which all strength lies; but above all he overcomes it by the inertia of the body and all this is connected with it. None the less, when he sees at last that some men guard themselves from all this and accept nothing from him and show no promise of ever obeying him – he withdraws from them with shame. Then the Spirit of God comes to dwell in them. And when the Spirit of God comes to dwell in them, He brings them rest, or lets them enjoy rest in all their activities, and makes the yoke of the Lord sweet for them, as it is written in the Gospels "and ye shall find rest unto your soul" (Matthew 9:29), although they have taken His yoke upon themselves and are bearing it. Then they become indefatigable, both in the practice of virtue and in carrying out obediences and night vigils. They feel no anger at human calumny and have no fear, whether of man, beast or spirit; for the joy of the Lord stays with them day and night, gives life to their reason and is their food. Through this joy the soul grows and becomes apt for all things or perfect; and through this joy it ascends to heaven.

St Ambrose, On Repentance

He who owes a debt to God has more help towards payment than he who is indebted to man. Man requires money for money, and this is not always at the debtor's command. God demands the affection of the heart, which is in our own power. No one who owes a debt to God is poor, except one who has made himself poor. And even if he have nothing to sell, yet has he wherewith to pay. Prayer, fasting, and tears are the resources of an honest debtor, and much more abundant than if one from the price of his estate offered money without faith.

St John Chrysostom, Homily 3

I speak not, indeed, of such a fast as most persons keep, but of real fasting; not merely an abstinence from meats; but from sins too. For the nature of a fast is such, that it does not suffice to deliver those who practise it, unless it be done according to a suitable law. For the wrestler, it is said, is not crowned unless he strive lawfully. (2 Timothy 2:5) To the end then, that when we have gone through the labour of fasting, we forfeit not the crown of fasting, we should understand how, and after what manner, it is necessary to conduct this business; since that Pharisee also fasted, (Luke 18:12) but afterwards went down empty, and destitute of the fruit of fasting. The Publican fasted not; and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted; in order that you may learn that fasting is unprofitable, except all other duties follow with it. The Ninevites fasted, and won the favour of God. (Jonah 3:10) The Jews, fasted too, and profited nothing, nay, they departed with blame. Since then the danger in fasting is so great to those who do not know how they ought to fast, we should learn the laws of this exercise, in order that we may not run uncertainly, nor beat the air, nor while we are fighting contend with a shadow. Fasting is a medicine; but a medicine, though it be never so profitable, becomes frequently useless owing to the unskilfulness of him who employs it. For it is necessary to know, moreover, the time when it should be applied, and the requisite quantity of it; and the temperament of body that admits it; and the nature of the country, and the season of the year; and the corresponding diet; as well as various other particulars; any of which, if one overlooks, he will mar all the rest that have been named. Now if, when the body needs healing, such exactness is required on our part, much more ought we, when our care is about the soul, and we seek to heal the distempers of the mind, to look, and to search into every particular with the utmost accuracy.

St Athanasius, Letters

Let us then add, one after the other, the seven holy weeks of Pentecost, rejoicing and praising God, that He has by these things made known to us beforehand, joy and rest everlasting, prepared in heaven for us and for those who truly believe in Christ Jesus our Lord; through Whom, and with Whom, be glory and dominion to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen

St Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit

Now many have thought that the Holy Spirit is the ointment of Christ. And well it is said ointment, because He is called the oil of gladness, the joining together of many graces giving a sweet fragrance. But God the Almighty Father anointed Him the Prince of priests, Who was, not like others anointed in a type under the Law, but was both according to the Law anointed in the body, and in truth was full with the virtue of the Holy Spirit from the Father above the Law.

May 2011

St Gregory the Great, Letters

Our Head, which is Christ, to this end has willed us to be His members, that through His large charity and faithfulness He might make us one body in Himself, to whom it befits us so to cling that, since without Him we can do nothing, through Him we may be enabled to be what we are called. From the citadel of the Head let nothing divide us, lest, if we refuse to be His members, we be deserted of Him, and wither as branches cast off from the vine. That we may be counted worthy, then, to be the habitation of our Redeemer, let us abide with the whole desire of our heart in His love. For he says, He that loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will make our abode with him

St Athanasius, Statement of faith

Each text then which refers to the creature is written with reference to Jesus in a bodily sense. For the Lord's Humanity was created as 'a beginning of ways,' and He manifested it to us for our salvation. For by it we have our access to the Father. For He is the way (John 14:6) which leads us back to the Father. And a way is a corporeal visible thing, such as is the Lord's humanity. Well, then, the Word of God created all things, not being a creature, but an offspring. For He created none of the created things equal or like unto Himself. But it is the part of a Father to beget, while it is a workman's part to create. Accordingly, that body is a thing made and created, which the Lord bore for us, which was begotten for us , as Paul says, 'wisdom from God, and sanctification and righteousness, and redemption;' while yet the Word was before us and before all Creation, and is, the Wisdom of the Father. But the Holy Spirit, being that which proceeds from the Father, is ever in the hands of the Father Who sends and of the Son Who conveys Him, by Whose means He filled all things. The Father, possessing His existence from Himself, begot the Son, as we said, and did not create Him, as a river from a well and as a branch from a root, and as brightness from a light, things which nature knows to be indivisible; through whom to the Father be glory and power and greatness before all ages, and unto all the ages of the ages.

St Augustine of Hippo, Of faith and the Creed

We believe that He Ascended into Heaven, which place of blessedness He has likewise promised unto us, saying, They shall be as the angels in the heavens, in that city which is the mother of us all, the Jerusalem eternal in the heavens. But it is wont to give offense to certain parties, either impious Gentiles or heretics, that we should believe in the assumption of an earthly body into heaven. The Gentiles, however, for the most part, set themselves diligently to ply us with the arguments of the philosophers, to the effect of affirming that there cannot possibly be anything earthly in heaven. For they know not our Scriptures, neither do they understand how it has been said, It is sown an animal body, it is raised a spiritual body. For thus it has not been expressed, as if body were turned into spirit and became spirit; inasmuch as at present, too, our body, which is called animal (animale), has not been turned into soul and become soul (anima). But by a spiritual body is meant one which has been made subject to spirit in such wise that it is adapted to a heavenly habitation, all frailty and every earthly blemish having been changed and converted into heavenly purity and stability. This is the change concerning which the apostle likewise speaks thus: We shall all rise, but we shall not all be changed. And that this change is made not unto the worse, but unto the better, the same [apostle] teaches, when he says, And we shall be changed. But the question as to where and in what manner the Lord's body is in heaven, is one which it would be altogether over-curious and superfluous to prosecute. Only we must believe that it is in heaven. For it pertains not to our frailty to investigate the secret things of heaven, but it does pertain to our faith to hold elevated and honorable sentiments on the subject of the dignity of the Lord's body.

St Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures

The root of all good works is the hope of the Resurrection; for the expectation of the recompense nerves the soul to good works. For every labourer is ready to endure the toils, if he sees their reward in prospect; but when men weary themselves for nought, their heart soon sinks as well as their body. A soldier who expects a prize is ready for war, but no one is forward to die for a king who is indifferent about those who serve under him, and bestows no honours on their toils. In like manner every soul believing in a Resurrection is naturally careful of itself; but, disbelieving it, abandons itself to perdition. He who believes that his body shall remain to rise again, is careful of his robe, and defiles it not with fornication; but he who disbelieves the Resurrection, gives himself to fornication, and misuses his own body, as though it were not his own. Faith therefore in the Resurrection of the dead, is a great commandment and doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church; great and most necessary, though gainsaid by many, yet surely warranted by the truth.

Holy Week 2011

St Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word

For the Word, perceiving that no otherwise could the corruption of men be undone save by death as a necessary condition, while it was impossible for the Word to suffer death, being immortal, and Son of the Father; to this end He takes to Himself a body capable of death, that it, by partaking of the Word Who is above all, might be worthy to die in the stead of all, and might, because of the Word which had come to dwell in it, remain incorruptible, and that thenceforth corruption might be stayed from all by the Grace of the Resurrection. Whence, by offering unto death the body He Himself had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from any stain, straightway He put away death from all His peers by the offering of an equivalent.

April 2011

St John Chrysostom, On Priesthood

What advantage, pray, could be greater than to be seen doing those things which Christ with his own lips declared to be proofs of love to Himself? For addressing the leader of the apostles He said, Peter, do you love me? and when he confessed that he did, the Lord added, if you love me tend my sheep. The Master asked the disciple if He was loved by him, not in order to get information (how should He who penetrates the hearts of all men?), but in order to teach us how great an interest He takes in the superintendence of these sheep. This being plain, it will likewise be manifest that a great and unspeakable reward will be reserved for him whose labors are concerned with these sheep, upon which Christ places such a high value.

St Basil the great, Hexaemeron (Homily 6)

You cannot, moreover, separate the brightness of fire from the virtue of burning which it possesses; but God, who wished to attract His servant by a wonderful sight, set a fire in the burning bush, which displayed all the brilliancy of flame while its devouring property was dormant. It is that which the Psalmist affirms in saying The voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire. Thus, in the requital which awaits us after this life, a mysterious voice seems to tell us that the double nature of fire will be divided; the just will enjoy its light, and the torment of its heat will be the torture of the wicked.

St Ambrose, On the Duties of the Clergy

For Christ our Lord, though He was in the form of God, emptied Himself so as to take on Himself the form of man, which He wished to enrich with the virtue of His works. Will you, then, spoil him whom Christ has put on? Will you strip him whom Christ has clothed? For this is what you are doing when thou dost attempt to increase your own advantage at another's loss.

Think, O man, from whence you have received your name— even from the earth, which takes nothing from any one, but gives freely to all, and supplies varied produce for the use of all living things. Hence humanity is called a particular and innate virtue in man, for it assists its partner.

March 2011

Origen, Letter to Gregory

Do you then, sir, my son, study first of all the divine Scriptures. Study them I say. For we require to study the divine writings deeply, lest we should speak of them faster than we think; and while you study these divine works with a believing and God-pleasing intention, knock at that which is closed in them, and it shall be opened to you by the porter, of whom Jesus says, To him the porter opens. While you attend to this divine reading seek aright and with unwavering faith in God the hidden sense which is present in most passages of the divine Scriptures. And do not be content with knocking and seeking, for what is most necessary for understanding divine things is prayer, and in urging us to this the Saviour says not only, Knock, and it shall be opened to you, and Seek, and you shall find, but also Ask, and it shall be given you. So much I have ventured on account of my fatherly love to you. Whether I have ventured well or not, God knows, and His Christ, and he who has part of the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. May you partake in these; may you have an always increasing share of them, so that you may be able to say not only, We are partakers of Christ, but also We are partakers of God.

St Macarius the Great, Sayings of the Desert Fathers

A brother came to see Abba Macarius the Egyptian, and said to him, 'Abba, give me a word, that I may be saved.' So the old man said, 'Go to the cemetery and abuse the dead.' The brother went there, abused them and threw stones at them; then he returned and told the old man about it. The latter said to him, 'Didn't they say anything to you?' He replied, 'No.' The old man said, 'Go back tomorrow and praise them.' So the brother went away and praised them, calling them, 'Apostles, saints and righteous men.' He returned to the old man and said to him, ‘ I have complimented them’. And the old man said to him, 'Did they not answer you?' The brother said no. The old man said to him, 'You know how you insulted them and they did not reply, and how you praised them and they did not speak; so you too if you wish to be saved must do the same and become a dead man. Like the dead, take no account of either the scorn of men or their praises, and you can be saved.'

St Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians

Wherefore it is fitting that you should run together in accordance with the will of your bishop, which thing also you do. For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as exactly to the bishop as the strings are to the harp. Therefore in your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung. And man by man, become a choir, that being harmonious in love, and taking up the song of God in unison, you may with one voice sing to the Father through Jesus Christ, so that He may both hear you, and perceive by your works that you are indeed the members of His Son. It is profitable, therefore, that you should live in an unblameable unity, that thus you may always enjoy communion with God.

St Clement of Alexandria, Who is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved?

But if one chooses to continue and to sin perpetually in pleasures, and values indulgence here above eternal life, and turns away from the Saviour, who gives forgiveness; let him no more blame either God, or riches, or his having fallen, but his own soul, which voluntarily perishes. But to him who directs his eye to salvation and desires it, and asks with boldness and vehemence for its bestowal, the good Father who is in heaven will give the true purification and the changeless life.

February 2011

St Athanasius, Life of St Anthony

For this was the wonderful thing in Antony's discipline, that, as I said before, having the gift of discerning spirits, he recognised their movements, and was not ignorant whither any one of them turned his energy and made his attack. And not only was he not deceived by them himself, but cheering those who were troubled with doubts, he taught them how to defeat their plans, telling them of the weakness and craft of those who possessed them. Thus each one, as though prepared by him for battle, came down from the mountain, braving the designs of the devil and his demons. How many maidens who had suitors, having but seen Antony from afar, remained maidens for Christ's sake. And people came also from foreign parts to him, and like all others, having got some benefit, returned, as though set forward by a father. And certainly when he died, all as having been bereft of a father, consoled themselves solely by their remembrances of him, preserving at the same time his counsel and advice.

St Basil the Great, Letter II

We must strive after a quiet mind. As well might the eye ascertain an object put before it while it is wandering restless up and down and sideways, without fixing a steady gaze upon it, as a mind, distracted by a thousand worldly cares, be able clearly to apprehend the truth. He who is not yet yoked in the bonds of matrimony is harassed by frenzied cravings, and rebellious impulses, and hopeless attachments; he who has found his mate is encompassed with his own tumult of cares; if he is childless, there is desire for children; has he children? Anxiety about their education, attention to his wife, care of his house, oversight of his servants, misfortunes in trade, quarrels with his neighbours, lawsuits, the risks of the merchant, the toil of the farmer. Each day, as it comes, darkens the soul in its own way; and night after night takes up the day's anxieties, and cheats the mind with illusions in accordance. Now one way of escaping all this is separation from the whole world; that is, not bodily separation, but the severance of the soul's sympathy with the body, and to live so without city, home, goods, society, possessions, means of life, business, engagements, human learning, that the heart may readily receive every impress of divine doctrine. Preparation of heart is the unlearning the prejudices of evil converse. It is the smoothing the waxen tablet before attempting to write on it.

St Athanasius, Letter 44

When therefore the servants of the Chief Priests and the Scribes saw these things, and heard from Jesus, 'Whosoever is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink; they perceived that this was not a mere man like themselves, but that this was He Who gave water to the saints, and that it was He Who was announced by the prophet Isaiah. For He was truly the splendour of the light , and the Word of God. And thus as a river from the fountain he gave drink also of old to Paradise; but now to all men He gives the same gift of the Spirit, and says, 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.' Whosoever 'believes in Me, as says the Scripture, rivers of living water shall flow out of his belly. This was not for man to say, but for the living God, Who truly vouchsafes life, and gives the Holy Spirit.

St Augustine of Hippo, On Christian Doctrine

And so our Christian orator, while he says what is just, and holy, and good (and he ought never to say anything else), does all he can to be heard with intelligence, with pleasure, and with obedience; and he need not doubt that if he succeed in this object, and so far as he succeeds, he will succeed more by piety in prayer than by gifts of oratory; and so he ought to pray for himself, and for those he is about to address, before he attempts to speak. And when the hour has come that he must speak, he ought, before he opens his mouth, to lift up his thirsty soul to God, to drink in what he is about to pour forth, and to be himself filled with what he is about to distribute. For, as in regard to every matter of faith and love there are many things that may be said, and many ways of saying them, who knows what it is expedient at a given moment for us to say, or to be heard saying, except God who knows the hearts of all? And who can make us say what we ought, and in the way we ought, except Him in whose hand both we and our speeches are? Accordingly, he who is anxious both to know and to teach should learn all that is to be taught, and acquire such a faculty of speech as is suitable for a divine. But when the hour for speech arrives, let him reflect upon that saying of our Lord's as better suited to the wants of a pious mind: Take no thought how or what you shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you. The Holy Spirit, then, speaks thus in those who for Christ's sake are delivered to the persecutors; why not also in those who deliver Christ's message to those who are willing to learn?

January 2011

Origen, Exhortation to Martyrdom

If passing from unbelief to faith means that we have passed from death to life, we should not be surprised to find that the world hates us. Anyone who has not passed from death to life is incapable of loving those who have departed from death's dark swelling place to enter a dwelling made of living stones and filled with the light of life. Jesus laid down his life for us; so we too should lay down our lives, I will not say for him, but for ourselves and also, surely, for those who will be helped by the example of our martyrdom.

Now is the time for Christians to rejoice, since Scripture says that we should rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering trains us to endure with patience, patient endurance makes us pleasing to God, and being pleasing to God gives us ground for a hope that will not be disappointed. Only let the love of God be poured forth in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. (Rom 5:5)

St Cyril of Jerusalem, On the Mystery of Baptism?

Let no one then suppose that Baptism is merely the grace of remission of sins, or further, that of adoption; as John’s was a baptism conferring only remission of sins: whereas we know full well, that as it purges our sins, and ministers to us the gift of the Holy Ghost, so also it is the counterpart of the sufferings of Christ. For this cause Paul just now cried aloud and said, Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into His death. These words he spoke to some who were disposed to think that Baptism ministers to us the remission of sins, and adoption, but has not further the fellowship also, by representation, of Christ’s true sufferings.

In order therefore that we might learn, that whatsoever things Christ endured, for us and for our salvation. He suffered them in reality and not in appearance, and that we also are made partakers of His sufferings, Paul cried with all exactness of truth, For if we have been planted together with the likeness of His death, we shall be also with the likeness of His resurrection. Well has he said, planted together. For since the true Vine was planted in this place, we also by partaking in the Baptism of death have been planted together with Him. And fix thy mind with much attention on the words of the Apostle. He said not, “For if we have been planted together with His death,” but, with the likeness of His death. For in Christ’s case there was death in reality, for His soul was really separated from His body, and real burial, for His holy body was wrapt in pure linen; and everything happened really to Him; but in your case there was only a likeness of death and sufferings, whereas of salvation there was not a likeness but a reality.

Having been sufficiently instructed in these things, keep them, I beseech you, in your remembrance; that I also, unworthy though I be, may say of you, Now I love you, because ye always remember me, and hold fast the traditions, which I delivered unto you. And God, who has presented you as it were alive from the dead, is able to grant unto you to walk in newness of life: because His is the glory and the power, now and for ever. Amen.

St Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God come to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us before. For no part of Creation is left void of Hum: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father. But He comes in condescension to show loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us. And seeing the race of rational creatures in the way to perish, and death reigning over them by corruption; seeing, too, that the threat against transgression gave a firm hold to the corruption which was upon us, and that it was monstrous that before the law was fulfilled it should fall though: seeing, once more, the unseemliness of what was come to pass: that the thinking whereof He Himself was Artificer were passing away: seeing, further, the exceeding wickedness of men, and hot little and little they had increased it to an intolerable pitch against themselves: and seeing, lately, how all men were under penalty of death: He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and, unable to bear that death should have the mastery - lest the creature should perish, and His Father's handiwork in men be spent for nought - He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours. For He did not simply will to become embodied, or will merely to appear. For if He willed merely to appear, He was able to effect His divine appearance by some other and higher means as well. But He takes a body of our kind, and not merely so, but from a spotless and stainless virgin, knowing not a man, a body clean and in very truth pure for intercourse of men. For being Himself mighty, and Artificer of everything, He prepares the body in the Virgin as a temple unto Himself, and makes it His very own as an instrument, in it manifested, and in it dwelling. And thus taking from our bodies one of like nature, because all were under penalty of the corruption of death He gave it over to death in stead of all, and offered it to the Father - doing this, moreover, of His loving-kindness, to the end that, firstly, all being held to have died to Him, the law involving the ruin of men might be undone (inasmuch as it power was fully spent in the Lord's body, and had no longer holding-ground against men, his peers), and that, secondly, whereas men had turned toward corruption, He might turn them again toward incorruption, and quicken them from death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of the Resurrection, banishing death from them like straw from the fire.