Author Topic: Modern Church Fathers  (Read 115371 times)

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #405 on: November 06, 2017, 09:01:05 PM »
Church life in the era of Constantine was a period of interaction between Christianity and paganism. This interaction began earlier, already in the second century. Can this really be considered a catastrophe, a collapse, a failure of Christianity? Not in the least! Can we say that this is wonderful and great? Neither can we say this. There is no single answer. Absorbing elements of paganism into itself, Christianity in this way sanctified all that was wonderful in the legacy from India to the New World. We can say that in the course of all millennia not a single soul which strove towards God passed unnoticed by him. Not one spark of the spectacular in the whole history of art passed unnoticed within the beauty of the world.

No matter where pagan concepts originated, they always had elements adaptable to Christianity, not in a spirit of compromise or expediency, but because of their innate worthiness. If some of our hymns contain echos of the hymn of Osiris, that only makes me happy, knowing that we have received that eternal intuition of the resurrection which the ancient Egyptian experienced on the shores of his native river. Within the surrounding lifeless desert, he suddenly saw from this clay, this earth, this silt, the rising of first shoots. He saw the sun pulling them upwards and he sang, "Osiris has conquered death by death." And we repeat those marvelous words , the Church adopts them. In the Church there were poets enough to invent something original. But this early Christian sensitivity was an act of reverence, if you will, of love and affection towards the whole non-biblical world, which we inaccurately call "pagan."

-- Fr. Alexander Men (d. 1990), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #406 on: November 08, 2017, 12:05:48 AM »
[Christ's] sacrifice will bring no salvation if He is to experience only His personal suffering. He has to be tormented by the painful wounds of sin, which afflict mankind. The heart of the God-Man fills with inexpressible grief. All human sins, beginning with Adam's transgression and finishing with those to be committed at the sound of the last trumpet, all the great and small sins of all people appear before His mental eyes. As God, He always had them before Him, "all things are manifest before Him," but now His human nature, too, experiences all their burden and abomination. The holy, sinless soul fills with horror. His suffering surpasses that of the sinners themselves, whose hardened hearts are not aware to what extent sin defiles a man and alienates him from the Creator. His sufferings are more acute because He sees this hardening of hearts. He sees that 'people blinded their eyes so as not to see, and that they do not want to hear with their ears and to turn to Him to be healed' (Isa. 6:9).

-- St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco (d. 1966), Christ's Prayer in the Garden (quoted in: Emmanuel Hatzidakis, Jesus: Fallen?, p. 93)

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #407 on: November 08, 2017, 04:11:33 PM »
As we leave the church after the Sunday Eucharist we enter again into time, and time, therefore, is the first "object" of our Christian faith and action. For it is indeed the icon of our fundamental reality, of the optimism as well as of the pessimism of our life, of life as life and of life as death. Through time on the one hand we experience life as a possibility, growth, fulfillment, as a movement toward a future. Through time, on the other hand, all future is dissolved in death and annihilation. Time is the only reality of life, yet it is strangely nonexistent reality: it constantly dissolves life in a past which no longer is, and in a future which always leads to death. By itself time is nothing but a line of telegraph poles strung out into the distance and at some point along the way is our death.

All generations, all philosophers have always been aware of this anxiety of time, of its paradox. All philosophy, all religion is ultimately an attempt to solve the "problem of time." And thousands of books, Christian and non-Christian, have been written about it. It is not our purpose, however, to add another "theology of time" to all those that exist already. It is rather to describe very briefly the experience of time which Christians have had from the very beginning and which is still given to them in the Church. Here again what the Church offers is not a "solution" of a philosophical problem, but a gift. And it becomes a solution only as it is accepted as freely and joyfully as it is given. Or, it may be, the joy of that gift makes both the problem and the solution unnecessary, irrelevant.

-- Fr. Alexander Schmemann (d. 1983), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #408 on: November 09, 2017, 07:39:14 PM »
Nocturnal prayer is traditional in Christian liturgical practice in general, and in particular, in the monastic practice of prayer. when recommending night vigils to monks, teachers of the ascetical life emphasised that night is the most suitable time for prayer, because then the whole world is immersed in sleep and there is nothing to distract the ascetic. 'Let every prayer that you offer in the night,' Isaac says, 'be more precious in your eyes than all your activities of the day.' Keeping night vigil is a 'work filled with delight' during which 'the soul experiences that immoral life, and by means of this experience she puts off the vesture of darkness and receives the gifts of the Spirit.'...

The person who guards himself during the day knows the power of night vigil. By itself, it can replace other virtues: '...If a man's body be enfeebled by illness and he cannot fast, vigil alone can gain for the intellefect steadfastness in prayer and bestow upon his heart noetic insight to understand the nature of spiritual power.' Moreover, if someone has not the strength to make prostrations and recite psalms by reason of spiritual darkening and laxity, then vigil alone, even while sitting, will be adequate for him: 'If these works [prostrations and psalmody] depart from you and you cannot perform them, at least remain wakeful in a sitting position, pray with your heart, and make every effort to pass the night without sleeping, sitting and pondering good thoughts. And if you do not harden your heart and darken it with sleep, then by the grace that first fervour, lightness and strength will return to you and you will leap with joy, giving thanks unto God.'

-- Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev) (b. 1966), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #409 on: November 10, 2017, 07:37:58 PM »
Divine truth is simple and absolute, while man's truth is multi-faceted and relative. the more someone approaches divine truth, the more he approaches divine simplicity. This simplicity is neither poverty nor naivety; it is richness and wisdom, self-sufficiency and completeness. Simplicity again, is the absence of any deficiency, of any passion, of any lack; it is the absence of any need for supplementation.

-- Georgios Mantzaridis (b. 1935), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #410 on: November 11, 2017, 10:38:36 PM »
The most abominable enemy endeavours to destroy love by love itself: love for God and our neighbor--by love for the world, for its fleeting blessings and its corrupt, impious habits, by carnal love, by the love of riches, of honours, of pleasure, of various amusements. Therefore let us extinguish every love for this world in ourselves, and let us kindle in ourselves by self-denial, love for God and our neighbour. Every beauty in this world (personal beauty) is only a faint, insignificant shadow of the uncreated beauty, of the unspeakable goodness of God's face; every earthly enjoyment is nothing in comparison to future delights. I pray, Lord, that the faith of Christ may penetrate into the depths of my heart, that Christ's Gospel may penetrate all my thoughts, feelings, and deeds, into my bones and my brains, and not me only, but all men, as the universal truth, the highest wisdom, and the life eternal. "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent." (Jn. 17:3)

-- St. John of Kronstadt (d. 1908), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #411 on: November 12, 2017, 07:22:20 PM »
As St. Paul writes, “If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). God wants us to provide for our families as much as He wants us to support His work through the church. The point I wish to make is that 95% of all the religious giving done by Americans today is out of our surplus. After our money is all spent (or at least contracted for) for all that new jewelry and cosmetics and three times as much for clothing as any human being requires, and pretty plush vacations, after all this, then we scream that we cannot be expected to give more sacrificially. The widow teaches us one thing: if our giving is not sacrificial, it isn’t Christian.

-- Fr. Anthony Coniaris (b. 1926), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #412 on: November 13, 2017, 11:43:04 PM »
There are six kinds of saints, or six types of holiness, listed here in relative importance for the Church:

Apostles: their teaching is the foundation of the Church

Martyrs and confessors: they are an example to us of supreme sacrifice

Prophets: they foretold the coming of Christ

Hierarchs and teaching saints: they preserve unity among the faithful; this includes saints such as St. John of Damascus and St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain

Monastics: they have died in peace praying for the world

Righteous: they have attained holiness in the world by keeping the commandments, participating in the liturgical life of the Church, etc.; this includes saints such as Abraham and Sarah, Joachim and Anna, St. Joseph, etc.

-- Fr. Ambrose (Alexey Young) (b. 1943), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #413 on: November 15, 2017, 03:22:35 AM »
As his compensation for directing the School he was able to live in a mansion and have a diet rich and varied with servants and maids. But no, Athanasios was an ascetic. He lived in a meager cell belonging to the Holy Trinity Monastery, as a very poor monk. The things belonging to him he distributed to the poor. He considered it an inexcusable sin to enter the new year with even a penny from the previous year. He could have dressed in expensive and princely clothes. yet when he passed away on June 24, 1813 he left a shredded rason, some books, an inkwell and a lamp. Then he was living in an even poorer monastery and more meager cell at the Hermitage of St. George in Reston on Chios.

-- St. Athanasios Parios (d. 1813), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #414 on: November 16, 2017, 01:45:29 AM »
In the cultural and ideal tendencies of our epoch dehumanization moves in two directions, toward naturalism and toward technicism. Man is subject either to cosmic forces or to technical civilization. It is not enough to say that he subjects himself: he is dissolved and disappears either in cosmic life or else in almighty technics; he takes upon himself the image, either of nature or of the machine. But in either case he loses his own image and is dissolved into him component elements. Man as a whole being, as a creature centred within himself, disappears; he ceases to be a being with a spiritual centre, retaining his inner continuity and his unity. To the fractional and partial elements of man there is offered not only the right to autonomy, but to supremacy in life. The self-assertion of these disunited elements in man, as, for instance, the non-sublimated elements of the subconscious, sexual desire, or the will to dominance and power, bear witness to the fact that the unified, whole image of man is disappearing and giving place to non-human and natural elements. Man has disappeared; there remains only certain of his functions.

-- Nicholas Berdyaev (d. 1948), The Fate of Man in the Modern World

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #415 on: November 16, 2017, 10:30:00 PM »
Consequently man's apostasy estranges the whole creation from God, devastates it, and, as it were, deprives it of God. The Fall of man shatters the cosmic harmony. Sin is disorder, discord, lawlessness. Strictly speaking it is only man that dies. Death indeed is a law of nature, a law of organic life. But man's death means just his fall or entanglement into this cyclical motion of nature, just what ought not to have happened at all. As St. Gregory says, "from the nature of dumb animals mortality is transferred to a nature created for immortality." Only for man is death contrary to nature and mortality is evil.

Only man is wounded and mutilated by death. In the generic life of dumb animals, death is rather a natural moment in the development of the species; it is the expression rather of the generating power of life than of infirmity. However, with the fall of man, mortality, even in nature, assumes an evil and tragic significance. Nature itself, as it were, is poisoned by the fatal venom of human decomposition. With dumb animals, death is but the discontinuation of individual existence. In the human world, death strikes at personality, and personality is much greater than mere individuality.

-- Fr. Georges Florovsky (d. 1979), Creation and Redemption: Volume Three in the Collected Works, p. 106

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #416 on: November 19, 2017, 02:46:47 AM »
The Alexandrine Fathers, and especially St Cyril, developed this mysticism of the adoption that deifies. Only the Word is the Son by nature, but in his body, in his Spirit, we become 'sons by participation'. This is an energy-based, spirit-filled Christology in which the humanity is shot through with the brightness of the divinity like iron red-hot in the fire.

"Participation in the Hοly Spirit gives human beings the grace to be shaped as a complete cοpy of the divine nature." - Cyril of Alexandria, Treasure, 13 (PG 75,228)

"Anyone who receives the image of the Son, that is the Spirit, possesses thereby in all fullness the Son, and the Father who is in him." - Cyril of Alexandria, Treasure, 33 (PG 75,572)

Tο be deified is therefore to become someone living with a life stronger than death, since the Word is life itself and the Spirit is the one who brings life. All human possibilities are brought into play. The structures of thought, feeling, friendship, creativity, while remaining οnly human structures, receive an infinite capacity for light and joy and love.

-- Olivier Clement (d. 2009), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #417 on: November 19, 2017, 08:22:32 PM »
Jesus teaches that there are those to whom the gift of virginity is given 'for the sake of the kingdom of heaven' (Matt. 19:12) The Apostle Paul later expounds on this teaching in 1 Cor. 7, indicating that marriage is good, but virginity is better--but that virginity is only for those who are gifted for it. Neither Jesus nor Paul implies anything negative about marriage, about the material body, or about sexual union... Both Jesus and Paul describe virginity "for the kingdom of heaven's sake" as being a special gift, a charisma. This gift of virginity is an exceptional vocation, while marriage is the ordinary vocation, the normal course of events in the world.

-- Kristofer Carlson (b. 20th century), Why Mary Matters

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #418 on: November 23, 2017, 07:57:01 AM »
My argument hinges on the way in which St Maximos's understanding manifests a general intuition that is implicit throughout the Eastern Christian tradition: that it is quite wrong to speak--as Western theology so often has--of divine grace as something added as a supernatural gift to "pure nature." Rather, as Vladimir Lossky has rightly noted, this Eastern tradition knows nothing of "pure nature" since it sees grace as being "implied in the act of creation itself." Because of this, as he goes on to note, the cosmos is seen as inherently "dynamic, tending always to its final end."

The belief that things have a natural "place" or telos toward which they naturally tend to move is known as teleology, and what Lossky hints at here is the way in which, for important strands of Byzantine theology, at least some aspects of the divine providence arise from within the creation through the intrinsically teleological factors that have been, so to speak, built into its components. This is particularly clear in the work of St Maximos himself since he sees the logos that constitutes the inner reality of each created thing, not only as a manifestation of the divine Logos of which the fourth gospel speaks, but also as what Metropolitan Kallistos has described as "God's intention for that thing, its inner essence, that which makes it distinctively itself and at the same time draws it towards the divine realm."

For St Maximos--and for the strange of the Greek patristic tradition that culminates in his work--the way in which each created thing has its origin and intended final end in God is intimately linked to the constitutive presence in it of a characteristic logos which is a manifestation, in some sense, of the divine Logos itself. This presence not only gives, to each created thing, the being it has in the temporal world, but also draws it--from within, not by some external, special action--toward its ultimate fulfillment in Christ.

-- Fr. Christopher Knight, Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #419 on: Yesterday at 07:18:40 AM »
Even though the body, inasmuch as it is a body, is naturally inclined to the pleasure derived from physical things, it is nevertheless led, governed, and controlled by the mind (soul) when reason is whole and complete. For according to St. John Damascene, the difference between a rational and an irrational soul is this: The irrational soul is led and ruled by the body and the senses, while the rational soul leads and rules the body and the senses. It has been thus determined by God for the rational to rule over the irrational, and the better to rule over the worse, and to subdue the latter's instinctive moves. This is why when the body has a desire, it does not directly rush into action to satisfy the desire, but is obstructed by the hegemonious mind.

-- St. Nicodumus of the Holy Mountain (d. 1809), Source