The highest prayer is that in which a person forgets all his needs, even the loftiest ones, burning with a single desire – to get as close as possible to the Lord, to place himself at His feet, to give Him all his heart. This is sublime love and sublime prayer, when one wishes to live only in the Lord, to love Him, to hide in His nearness, to be filled with His indescribable love.
(I Cor. 14:1) There is much need of eagerness: she is soon out of sight, she is
most rapid in her flight; so many things are there in life which injure her. If we follow her, she will not outstrip us and get away, but we shall speedily recover her. The love of God is that which united earth to Heaven. It was the love of God that seated man upon the kingly throne. It was the love of God that manifested God upon earth. It was the love of God that made the Lord a servant. It was the love of God that caused the Beloved to be delivered up for His enemies, the Son for them that hated Him, the Lord for His servants, God for men, the free for slaves. Nor did it stop here, but called us to yet greater things. Yes, not only did it release us from our former evils, but promised, moreover, to bestow upon us other much greater blessings. For these things then let us give thanks to God, and follow after every virtue; and before all things, let us with all strictness practice love, that we may be accounted worthy to attain the promised blessings; through the grace and loving- kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, and honor, now and for ever and ever. Amen.
~St. John Chrysostom: Homily on Eph. 4:1-3
“As far as we can reach, He Who Is, and God, are the special names of His Essence; and of these especially He Who Is, not only because when He spoke to Moses in the mount, and Moses asked what His Name was, this was what He called Himself, bidding him say to the people ‘I Am has sent me’ (Ex. 3:14), but also because we find that this Name is the more strictly appropriate.”
~St. Gregory the Theologian
Marvelous changes occur daily in the destiny of men-in the present, as in times past. Those humiliated for the sake of God’s righteousness are raised to great heights, and the blasphemers of the Faith are converted to servants of the Faith. King Tiridates threw St. Gregory into a deep pit. The saint spent fourteen years in that pit, forgotten by the entire world, but not by God. Who among men could have thought that the greatest light of the Armenian people was to be found in the darkness of a pit? And who would have ever thought that the powerful and tyrannical King Tiridates would one day save the life of that same Gregory, whom he had condemned to death, and would help him more than the rest of the whole world could help him? After fourteen years, God revealed Gregory as still alive. Gregory then miraculously healed the insane king. King Tiridates, the unrestrained persecutor of Christ, was baptized and became the greatest zealot for the Christian Faith! It could be said that, with God’s help, Gregory and Tiridates were both drawn out of the pit of darkness-Gregory a physical one, and Tiridates a spiritual one. Oh, the infinite wisdom of God in governing the destinies of men! The formerly wild and passionate Tiridates was softened and ennobled so much by repentance and the Christian Faith, that he came to resemble St. Gregory more than his old, unrepentant self.
hat tip: The Prologue of Ohrid
People of God, holy nation, sacred gathering! Let us revere our paternal memory; let us extol the power of the mystery! Each of us, in the measure given by grace, let us offer a worthy gift for the present feast. Fathers—a prosperous lineage; mothers—fine children; the unbearing—the not- bearing of sin; virgins—a twofold prudence, of soul and of body; betrothed—praiseworthy abstinence. If anyone of you be a father, let him imitate the father of the Virgin; and if anyone be without child—let them make harvest of fruitful prayer, cultivating a life pleasing to God. The mother, feeding her children, let her rejoice together with Anna, raising her Child, given to her in infertility through prayer. She that is barren, not having given birth, lacking the blessing of a child, let her come with faith to the God-given Offshoot of Anna and offer there her barrenness. The virgin, living blamelessly, let her be a mother by discourse, adorning by word the elegance of soul. For a betrothed—let her offer mental sacrifice from the fruits of prayer. All together rich and poor, lads and maidens, old and young (Ps 48:2, 148:12), priests and Levites—let all together keep the feast in honor of the Maiden, the Mother of God and the Prophetess: from Her hath issued forth the Prophet, foretold of by Moses, Christ God and Truth (Dt 18:15). Amen.
~St. Andrew of Crete on the Nativity of the Theotokos
hat tip: Sunday Bulletin of Holy Theophany Orthodox Church
Human beings can search the heavens, measure the distances of the stars, observe their revolutions, says [St]Basil [the Great], but unless they recognize “that God is the creator of the universe” they will see nothing as it truly is. If the world is cut free from its creator, it loses its natural axis. The starting point, says Basil, must be that an “intelligent cause stands behind the birth of the world.” When it is recognized that the intelligibility of the world is derived from something beyond itself, everything comes into focus. Creation displaces cosmology. When the Scripture says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” it rules out any form of naturalism. The world is not random or disordered, it came into being not by chance or spontaneously, but by God’s wisdom and love.
~Robert Louis Wilken, “The End Given in the Beginning: Chapter 4,” The Spirit of Christian Thought, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2003, p. 141.
hat tip: Dynamis~Church Fathers Wisdom
God has required only one thing from you, that every time you are disturbed by something, you should immediately restore peace in yourself, and thus should remain undisturbed in all your actions and occupations. You must know that this requires patience; for just as a city is not built in a day, you cannot expect to gain inner peace in a day. For gaining inner peace means building a house for the God of peace and a tabernacle for the Almighty, and in this way becoming a temple of God. You must also know that it is God Himself Who builds this house in you, and without Him all your labor will be in vain, as it is written: ‘Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it’ (Ps. 126:1).
Lorenzo Scupoli, ‘Spiritual Combat’ and ‘Path to Paradise,’ revised as ‘Unseen Warfare’ by Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and Theophan the Recluse (eds)
They say that God allows the demons to make war on us for five reasons: the first, they say is so that we may distinguish between virtue and vice by making war and being warred against; secondly, so that we may acquire virtue by warfare and toil, and possess it sure and steadfast; thirdly, so that we may not think highly of ourselves when we make progress in virtue, but may learn to be humble; fourthly, so that we may completely hate vice, after we have experienced it; and finally, apart from of these, the fifth reason is so that we may not forget our frailty or the power of God which helped us to attain passionlessness.
~Saint Maximos the Confessor
… than ingratitude, nothing more insulting or soul-destroying. What can be uglier than when a man suppresses and conceals a good work done to him? And what is uglier than when a man returns mercilessness for mercy, faithlessness for faithfulness, dishonor for honor and mockery for good? Such ingratitude draws a black cloud between the ungrateful on the one hand and the most pure Eye from heaven – that is light without the admixture of darkness, and goodness without the admixture of evil – on the other.
…. In this world, gratitude receives its true, divine radiance, and ingratitude its destructive ugliness, only in man – only in the human race. No single other living creature in the world is capable of such gratitude or ingratitude as man. The most grateful man is the closest to perfection. His gratitude to all God’s creatures around him makes him the finest citizen of this star-studded universe. Gratitude towards men makes him the first citizen of human society; gratitude towards the Creator of the universe and towards men makes him a worthy citizen of the Kingdom of God.
In order to save the human race from the humiliation of ingratitude, the Lord Jesus frequently raised public thanksgiving and praise to God. The apostles did the same thing, constantly “praising God”, and blessing Him, not only for His goodness to them personally but also towards others. “I cease not to give thanks for you”, writes the Apostle Paul to the faithful in Ephesus, teaching them at the same time to the thankful “for all things… in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. In the same way, the Church of God, following the apostles’ example, constantly raises thanks and praise to the living God, and constantly reminds the faithful never to forget, and never to cease praising God for all that He sends them. There is never a divine service that the Church begins without the words: “Blessed is our God…” or “Blessed is the Kingdom…”, nor one that does not end with “Glory to Thee, O Christ our God and our Hope, glory to Thee!” The church does this so that unceasing thoughts, hymns and prayers of thanksgiving to God should be deeply imprinted on the souls of the faithful, so that each should be able to say of himself, with the Psalmist: “His praise shall ever be in my mouth.”
~St. Nikolai of Zica
hat tip: Sunday Bulletin of Holy Theophany Orthodox Church