Author Topic: Modern Church Fathers  (Read 117844 times)

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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #315 on: March 12, 2017, 06:46:12 PM »
Additionally, it seems St. John Chrysostom made a very extensive commentary on the Psalms! Unfortunately, and for some unknown reason (given his relevance), it was only translated to English recently and the internet only has it in Greek.

I don't know of a complete contemporary commentary in English, but regarding the early Church, besides the three you mention there are also a few others that I'm aware of--though none are fully online. There is a volume of homilies by St. Jerome, published by the Catholic University of America Press, which does not cover anywhere near all the Psalms, but it does add up to over 400 pages worth of material. Another is by (St.?) Theodoret of Cyrus, which seems to be a complete commentary in two volumes, and is also published by the CUA Press. There's also the Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture series, which gives blurbs of the Fathers for each passage. Preview versions of all these are available on Google Books.
I bought St. John's commentary and ACCS's first volume. Worth it, summed to St. Augustine's extensive commentary.
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #316 on: March 13, 2017, 01:05:07 AM »
"It is better for me to die in Christ Jesus than to be king over the ends of the earth. I seek him who died for our sake. I desire him who rose for us. Birth-pangs are upon me. suffer me, my brethren; hinder me not from living, do not wish me to die... Suffer me to receive the pure light; when I shall have arrived there, I shall become a human being. Suffer me to follow the example of the passion of my God." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Romans 6)

Life and death are reversed for Ignatius, compared to our usual patterns of speech. "Hinder me not from living," by seeking to stop my martyrdom; "do not wish me to die: by trying to keep me "alive"! He is in the process of being born, in a birth through which he will become a "human being"--a human being in the stature of Christ, the "perfect human being" (Smyrnaeans 4) or the "new human being" (Ephesians 20), as the martyr refers to "the faithful Martyr, the Firstborn of the dead" (Rev. 1:5), :the Pioneer of our salvation" (Heb. 2:10).

Death, here, is a defining moment: not the end, but the beginning; not disappearance, but revelation. As Ignatius also pointed out to the Romans: "Now that Christ is with the Father, he is more visible than he was before" (Romans 3). That is, when Christ walked amongst us in the flesh his disciples never really understood who he was; now that he has passed through his passion, the "exodus" that he accomplishes in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31), and is with the Father in the kingdom, now they can finally "see" who he is.

-- Fr. John Behr (b. 1966), The Role of Death in Life, p. 80

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #317 on: March 14, 2017, 02:52:14 PM »
Can you believe that Christ the Saviour portrayed Himself in the guise of a woman in two of His parables? One is that of the woman who took three measures of flour and made dough. But first let us speak of the other one where the Lord tells us about the woman who had ten drachmas and lost one. These are the most mysterious of all the Saviour's parables. As the parable of the lost drachma is short, we quote it in full. "Or what woman, having ten drachmas, if she lose one, does not light a candle and sweep the house and look diligently till she finds it? And after she has found it, she calls in her friends and neighbors and says, Rejoice with me, for I have found the drachma that I lost." (Luke 15:8-9).

At first glance this parable seems so simple, or even naive, that it does not impress the reader of the Gospel. In fact, however, the mystery of the universe is revealed in this simple parable. If we take it literally, it evokes bewilderment. The woman lost only one drachma. Even ten drachmas do not represent a great sum; in fact, a woman who has only ten drachmas must be very poor indeed. Let us assume, first of all, that the finding of the lost drachma meant a great gain for her. Yet it still presents a paradox, for how is it that if she is such a poor woman she lights lamps, sweeps the house and calls in all her friends and neighbors to share her joy. And all because of one drachma! Such a waste of time-lighting a candle and setting the house in order first of all! Furthermore, if she invites her neighbors she is obliged, according to Eastern custom, to offer them something to eat and drink, no small expense for a poor woman. To fail to do so would be to ignore an unalterable custom.

Another important point to note is that she did not invite only one woman to whom she might have offered sweets, which would not have involved great expense. But she invited many friends and neighbors, and even if she entertained them modestly the expense would far exceed the value of the drachma she had found. Why then should she seek the drachma so diligently and rejoice at finding it, only to lose it again in another way? If we try to understand this parable in its literal sense, it does not fit into the frame of everyday life, but leaves the impression of something exaggerated and incomprehensible. So let us try to discover its mystical or hidden meaning. Who is the woman? And why is it a woman and not a man, when a man is more likely to lose money in the ordinary routine of life? Whose house is it that she sweeps and fills with light? Who are her friends and neighbors? If we look for the spiritual instead of the literal meaning of the parable we shall find the answers to those questions. The Lord said, Seek and ye shall find.

The woman represents Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God. The ten drachmas are His. It is He Who has lost one of them and sets out to look for it. The drachmas are not coins of gold or silver. According to Orthodox theologians, the number ten represents fulness. The nine unlost drachmas are the nine orders of angels. The number of angels is beyond the grasp of mortals, for it exceeds our power of calculation. The lost drachma represents mankind in its entirety. Therefore Christ the Saviour came down from heaven to earth, to His house, and lit a candle, the light of the knowledge of Himself. He cleaned out the house-that is, He purified the world of diabolic impurity-and found the lost drachma, erring and lost humanity. Then He called his friends and neighbors (after His glorious Resurrection and Ascension), that is to say, all the countless hosts of the cherubim and seraphim, angels and archangels, and revealed to them His great joy. Rejoice with Me. I have found the lost drachma! That means: I have found men to fill the void in the Kingdom of Heaven, caused by the fall of the proud angels who apostasized from God. At the end of time the number of these found and saved souls will have grown to billions, or, in the language of Scripture, will be as countless as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.

-- St. Nicholas Velimirovic (d. 1956), Source
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 02:53:11 PM by Asteriktos »

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #318 on: March 16, 2017, 02:44:57 AM »
It is the consensus of voice that matters: reading the Fathers within the Scripture; the Scripture within the horizon of the church; the liturgy within the context of prayer: all together forming a 'seamless robe.' The seamless harmony of the whole tradition shores up all the different parts, self-correcting and self-regulating in its wholeness. It ever converges to what it essentially is: not a systematician's 'reduction' of Christian faith in millions of propositions, but rather the record of a whole people’s long pilgrimage towards God across the desert horizons of a long history, as well as a compass for keeping the right course for the future.

-- Fr. John McGuckin (b. 1952), The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture, p. 102

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #319 on: March 18, 2017, 01:07:44 AM »
The holy fathers in fact are continuously apostolizing, whether as distinct godlike personalities, or as bishops of the local churches, or as members of the holy ecumenical and holy local councils. For all of them there is but one Truth, one Transcendent Truth: the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ.

-- St. Justin Popovich (d. 1979), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #320 on: March 19, 2017, 09:09:28 PM »
Where shall we seek criteria of truth? All too often men seek these criteria in what is lower than truth, in the objective world with its compulsions, seek criteria for spirit in the material world. And they fall into a vicious circle. Discursive truth can provide no criteria for final truth: it is only at the half-way mark, and knows neither the beginning nor the end. Every proof rests upon the unproven, the postulate, the created. There is risk, and no guarantee. The very search for guarantee is wrong and really means subjecting the higher to the lower. Freedom of the spirit knows no guarantees. The sole criterion of truth is truth itself, the light which streams out of it. All other criteria exist only for the every-day, objective world, for social communication.

-- Nicholas Berdyaev (d. 1948), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #321 on: March 24, 2017, 08:42:51 PM »
It is impossible for God not to show mercy on one who is genuinely striving to be saved.

-- St. Pachomius of Chios (d. 1905), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #322 on: March 26, 2017, 02:19:23 AM »
One desiring salvation must always have a heart inclined towards penitence and contrition: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise" (Ps. 51:19). With such a contrite spirit a person can avoid without trouble all the artful tricks of the devil, whose efforts are all directed towards disturbing the spirit of a person. By this disturbance he sows tares (i.e., weeds), according to the words of the Gospel: "Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, ‘An enemy hath done this’" (Mt. 13:27-28). But when a person struggles to have a meek heart and to keep peace in his thoughts, then are all the wiles of the enemy powerless; for, where there is peace of thought, God Himself resides: "In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion" (Ps. 76:2).

-- St. Seraphim of Sarov (d. 1833), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #323 on: March 27, 2017, 12:57:40 AM »
The motion of spiritual beings is movement of ascension, which will last eternally. St. Gregory Palamas said: "The proof for this hiddenness beyond all knowledge is Moses' desire, request, and ascent towards a more and more acute seeing, but also the continuous advance of the angels and of the saints in the endless age toward ever clearer visions..." The created subject never comes to an end in the act of understanding the absolute subject. But this movement is at the same time given the name of stability because the motion is maintained permanently in its path.

-- Fr. Dumitru Staniloae (d. 1993), Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, p. 145

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #324 on: March 28, 2017, 01:19:14 PM »
The fundamental difference between orthodoxy and heterodoxy depends on the relationship by which an historical body is established as the Church. For Karl Barth, for example, the relationship is with God alone, who continually 'appears,' his presence having the character of an 'event' (ereignishaft) as opposed to an 'institution.' The emphasis is vertical; the divine act, like a tangent, touches the circle but does not penetrate it.

For the Orthodox, the link is cross-shaped, the Church being at the intersection of the horizontal and vertical. the connection here is theandric. Theandrism constitutes the Church, places it at the centre of the world, transforms its human content into theandric substance by filling it with its reality, and thus supplies horizontal continuity: the Apostolic succession, the sacraments (the extension of the visible Christ), the incorporation of the faithful in the historical body.

According to the Reformers the Church is on Earth, visible but undiscernible; it is, so t speak, the Church 'itinerant.' It is certainly somewhere, but we cannot say exactly where: the sacraments may be correctly administered and the Word correctly preached, but the elect, marked with an invisible sign, are scattered everywhere and unidentifiable.

For the Orthodox, the Church is objectively present where the Apostolic ministry of incorporation is exercised; where the Bishop, by his apostolic power, celebrates the Eucharist, demonstrates his authority and unites in himself the people gathered for the Liturgy, the Body of Christ.

-- Paul Evdokimov (d. 1970), Orthodoxy

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #325 on: March 29, 2017, 03:23:36 AM »
We must pity every evil man, and not be angered with him, and not thus gratify Satan; we must look upon even every enemy, simply as upon God's creation, as upon one created after the image of God, and as upon our own member, and not breathe malice against him, that is, not become a devil, for every one who breathes malice becomes a devil himself, while he is angered. We must always be meek, gentle, kind-hearted, patient, as though we did not notice the malice of others, we must "overcome evil," or wicked people "with good," (Rom. 12:21) by kindness, benefits. May God deliver us from evil suspiciousness, through which everything in our neighbour has the worst construction put upon it; his movements, gestures, look, voice, step, and every word.

-- St. John of Kronstadt (d. 1908), My Life in Christ

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #326 on: April 01, 2017, 09:58:41 PM »
The first time you are victorious over self may be a sign to you: Now I am on the way! But do not consider yourself virtuous, only thank God, for it was He who gave you the power; and do not rejoice beyond measure, but swiftly go on. Otherwise the vanquished evil may come to life and conquer you from the rear. Remember: the Israelites received the command from God to drive out all the inhabitants of the land when they conquered the new land (Num. 33:52), in order that we might learn from them.

-- Tito Colliander (d. 1989), Way of the Ascetics

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #327 on: April 05, 2017, 09:33:58 PM »
We must study and live through these divine events all the time. When someone studies the events of each feast day, he will be naturally moved to pray with particular reverence. Then, during liturgical services, our mind will be absorbed by the events we are celebrating and we will follow with great reverence the chanting of hymns. When our mind thinks divine thoughts, we get to live through these holy events, and in this manner we are transformed. We think of a Saint for whom we have a special devotion, or of the Saint whose feast day we are celebrating, and our mind rises higher toward Heaven. And when we keep the Saints in mind, they keep us in mind too, and they come to our assistance.

-- St. Paisios of Mount Athos (d. 1994), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #328 on: April 06, 2017, 06:07:17 PM »
The word "ecumenical," in the sense in which it was used by early Christians and throughout the Middle Ages, has meaning only in the context of the Byzantine "symphony" between Church and Empire. It cannot be translated simply as "imperial" because the Empire recognized in matters of faith the competence of the bishops and the power of public opinion. The interminable doctrinal controversies over the Trinity and the person of Christ prove the fact that the emperor was powerless in imposing theological statements by decree, and that the "ecumenical" councils convoked by him never enjoyed automatic infallibility. Byzantine society never accepted the idea that the mystery of the Church could be reduced to the legal principles of the pax Romana.

A clear and short definition of an ecumenical council is given by the Byzantine historian Cedrenus (eleventh cent.): Councils "were named ecumenical, because bishops of the whole Roman Empire were invited by imperial orders and in each of them, and especially in these six councils, there was discussion of the faith and a vote, i.e. dogmatic formulae were promulgated." (Hist. I, 3, ed. Bonn, 1838, p. 39.) Since the Byzantine emperor was considered as the protector of all Christians, the "ecumenical" councils held doctrinal validity even beyond the border of the empire. However, even inside the empire their acceptance was not automatic. "Ecumenical" councils were convoked in Sardica (343), Rimini (359), Ephesus (449), Constantinople (754), etc., which were eventually rejected, or accepted only as "local councils." A gap always remained between the ecclesiological  significance of a universal episcopal consensus, which "ecumenical" councils were supposed to represent, and the political management of church affairs in the framework of the Roman oikoumene.

The word "ecumenical" itself reflects the Byzantine politico-religious view of society. The patriarch of Constantinople was called "ecumenical" because of his responsibility in the empire, and the head of imperial university merited the title oikoumenikos didaskalos.It is, therefore, obviously impossible to transpose the byzantine criteria of "ecumenicity" to our own times. With the disappearance of the Empire these criteria have necessarily disappeared also. Only the concept of an episcopal consensus, which the "ecumenical councils" reflected when they were recognized by the Church, remains fully valid.

-- Fr. John Meyendorff (d. 1992), Living Tradition: Orthodox Witness in the Contemporary World, pp. 54-55

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #329 on: April 07, 2017, 12:08:11 PM »
Thanks for posting all this, Asteriktos. You may not be getting much comment but these are being read.
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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #330 on: April 07, 2017, 12:26:28 PM »
Thanks for posting all this, Asteriktos. You may not be getting much comment but these are being read.

Definitely!
How this relates to the coming Antichrist? I don't know...

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The erection of one’s rod counts as a form of glory (Theophylaktos of Ohrid, A Defense of Eunuchs, p. 329).

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #331 on: April 07, 2017, 01:47:27 PM »
Thanks for posting all this, Asteriktos. You may not be getting much comment but these are being read.

Definitely!

+ 1
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #332 on: April 07, 2017, 01:54:50 PM »
Thanks for posting all this, Asteriktos. You may not be getting much comment but these are being read.

Definitely!

+ 1
+2
"May the Lord our God remember in His kingdom all Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, which heralds the Word of Truth and fearlessly offers and distributes the Holy Oblation despite human deficiencies and persecutions moved by the powers of this world, in all time and unto the ages of ages."

Check my blog "Em Espírito e em Verdade" (in Portuguese)

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #333 on: April 07, 2017, 02:14:27 PM »
Thanks for saying so  :) I worry sometimes that the excerpts are too long... but then I figure there are lots of places that already give bite-size and more inspirational/pithy quotes.

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #334 on: April 08, 2017, 10:33:19 PM »
Christ gave us two commandments: to love God and to love our fellow man. Everything else, even the commandments contained in the Beatitudes, is merely an elaboration of these two commandments, which contain within themselves the totality of Christ’s “Good News.” Furthermore, Christ’s earthly life is nothing other than the revelation of the mystery of love of God and love of man. These are, in sum, not only the true but the only measure of all things. And it is remarkable that their truth is found only in the way they are linked together. Love for man alone leads us into the blind alley of an anti-Christian humanism, out of which the only exit is, at times, the rejection of the individual human being and love toward him in the name of all mankind. Love for God without love for man, however, is condemned: “You hypocrite, how can you love God whom you have not seen, if you hate your brother whom you have seen” (1 Jn. 4:20). Their linkage is not simply a combination of two great truths taken from two spiritual worlds. Their linkage is the union of two parts of a single whole.

These two commandments are two aspects of a single truth. Destroy either one of them and you destroy truth as a whole. In fact, if you take away love for man then you destroy man (because by not loving him you reject him, you reduce him to non-being) and no longer have a path toward the knowledge of God. God then becomes truly apophatic, having only negative attributes, and even these can be expressed only in the human language which you have rejected. He becomes inaccessible to your human soul because, in rejecting man, you have also rejected humanity, you have also rejected what is human in your own soul, though your humanity was the image of God within you and your only way to see the Prototype as well. This is to say nothing of the fact that man taught you in his own human language, describing in human words God’s truth, nor of the fact that God reveals himself through human concepts. By not loving, by not having contact with humanity we condemn ourselves to a kind of a deaf-mute blindness with respect to the divine as well. In this sense, not only did the Logos-Word-Son of God assume human nature to complete his work of redemption and by this sanctified it once and for all, destining it for deification, but the Word of God, as the “Good News,” as the Gospel, as revelation and enlightenment likewise needed to become incarnate in the flesh of insignificant human words. For it is with words that people express their feelings, their doubts, their thoughts, their good deeds and their sins. And in this way human speech, which is the symbol of man’s interior life, was likewise sanctified and filled with grace — and through it the whole of man’s inner life.

On the other hand, one cannot truly love man without loving God. As a matter of fact, what can we love in man if we do not discern God’s image within him? Without that image, on what is such love based? It becomes some kind of peculiar, monstrous, towering egoism in which every “other” becomes only a particular facet of my own self. I love that in the other which is compatible with me, which broadens me, which explains me — and at times simply entertains and charms me. If, however, this is not the case, if indeed there is desire for a selfless but non-religious love toward man, then it will move inevitably from a specific person of flesh and blood and turn toward the abstract man, toward humanity, even to the idea of humanity, and will almost always result in the sacrifice of the concrete individual upon the altar of this abstract idea — the common good, an earthly paradise, etc.

-- St. Maria of Paris (d. 1945), Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #335 on: April 09, 2017, 10:54:03 PM »
I must tell you first of all that, to the best of our knowledge, there are no startsi today—that is, truly God-bearing elders (in the spirit of the Optina elders) who could guide you not by their own wisdom and understanding of the Holy Fathers, but by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.  This kind of guidance is not given to our times—and frankly, we in our weakness and corruption and sins do not deserve it.

To our times is given a more humble kind of spiritual life, which Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov in his excellent book The Arena (do you have it?) calls life by counsel—that is, life according to the commandments of God as learned in the Holy Scriptures and Holy Fathers and helped by those who are elder and more experienced.  A starets can give commands; but a counsellor gives advice, which you must test in experience.

-- Fr. Seraphim Rose (d. 1982), Source

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #336 on: April 11, 2017, 12:33:22 AM »
Does anyone have the book "Wounded by Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios"...?

I need a picture of pages 106 and 107 urgently, to finish tomorrow's text for an official page of my archeparchy. If I can't find it on time, I can try to fit it for Holy Wednesday.
"May the Lord our God remember in His kingdom all Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, which heralds the Word of Truth and fearlessly offers and distributes the Holy Oblation despite human deficiencies and persecutions moved by the powers of this world, in all time and unto the ages of ages."

Check my blog "Em Espírito e em Verdade" (in Portuguese)

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #337 on: April 11, 2017, 02:22:41 AM »
Does anyone have the book "Wounded by Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios"...?

I need a picture of pages 106 and 107 urgently, to finish tomorrow's text for an official page of my archeparchy. If I can't find it on time, I can try to fit it for Holy Wednesday.
Got it. :)
"May the Lord our God remember in His kingdom all Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, which heralds the Word of Truth and fearlessly offers and distributes the Holy Oblation despite human deficiencies and persecutions moved by the powers of this world, in all time and unto the ages of ages."

Check my blog "Em Espírito e em Verdade" (in Portuguese)

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #338 on: April 12, 2017, 07:33:38 PM »
The 20th century can be considered as the age of major accomplishments in the realm of knowledge about the universe and in the effort to submit creation to the will of man. During this century, both the power and weakness of humanity have manifested themselves. it is evident that man's dominion over his environment does not automatically bring happiness and the fullness of life... Scientific and technical progress can become an instrument fro the destruction of nature and of social life. This is particularly clear after the ruin of the Communist system. More broadly, there is also the failure of all anthropocentric ideologies, creating in the humanity a spiritual void and an existential insecurity, and leading many to seek salvation in new religious or pseudo-religious movements, in sects... and all sorts of proselytism which reveal the profound crisis of the contemporary world... And in the social sphere, only one part of humanity accumulates privileges and powers stemming from the rapid progress of technology and science, while the misery of other peoples increases, thus creating tensions and provoking wars... The risks also increase that man will not survive as a free person, made "in the image and likeness of God." Developments in the field of genetics, while they can be immensely helpful in combating disease, can also transform the human being into a thing, a controlled object, manipulated by those with power.

-- Synaxis of Orthodox Primates in Constantinople (1992) - Source

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #339 on: April 13, 2017, 05:25:47 PM »
481. What should be the effect and fruit of true faith in the Christian? Love, and good works conformable thereto. "In Jesus Christ," says the Apostle Paul, "neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love." (Gal. 5:6).

482. Is not faith alone enough for a Christian, without love and good works? No; for faith without love and good works is inactive and dead, and so can not lead to eternal life. "He that loveth not his brother, abideth in death." (1 John 3:14). "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (Jam 2:14, 26).

483. May not a man, on the other hand, be saved by love and good works, without faith? It is impossible that a man who has not faith in God should really love him; besides, man, being ruined by sin, can not do really good works, unless he receive through faith in Jesus Christ spiritual strength, or grace from God. "Without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him," (Heb. 11:6) "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." (Gal. 3:10) "For we through the spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." (Gal. 5:5) "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8-9).

484. What is to be thought of such love as is not accompanied by good works? Such love is not real: for true love naturally shows itself by good works. Jesus Christ says: "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: if a man love me, he will keep my word." (John 14:21, 23) The Apostle John writes: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." (1 Jn 5:3) "Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth." (1 Jn. 3:18)

-- St. Met. Philaret (d. 1867), The Longer Catechism of The Orthodox Catholic Eastern Church, 481-484

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #340 on: April 19, 2017, 01:41:36 AM »
Once the Elder was invited on board a frigate that had come from St. Petersburg. The captain of the frigate was a man quite learned, highly educated; he had been sent to America by Imperial command to inspect all the colonies. With the captain were some 25 officers, likewise educated men. In this company there sat a desert-dwelling monk of small stature, in an old garment, who by his wise conversation brought all his listeners to such a state that they did not know how to answer him. The captain himself related: "We were speechless fools before him!"

Father Herman gave them all one common question: "What do you, gentlemen, love above all, and what would each of you wish for his happiness?" Diverse answers followed. One desired wealth, one glory, one a beautiful wife, one a fine ship which he should command, and so on in this fashion. "Is it not true," said Father Herman at this, "that all your various desires can be reduced to one - that each of you desires that which, in his understanding, he considers best and most worthy of love?" "Yes, it is so," they all replied. "Well, then, tell me," he continued, "can there be anything better, higher above everything, more surpassing everything and in general more worthy of love, than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who created us, perfectly adorned us, gave life to all, supports all, nourishes and loves all, who Himself is love and more excellent than all men? Should not a person then love God high above all and desire and seek Him more than all else?" All began to say: "Well, yes! That is understood! That speaks for itself!"

"And do you love God?" the Elder then asked. All replied: "Of course, we love God. How can one not love God?" "And I, sinful one, for more than forty years have been striving to love God, and cannot say that I perfectly love Him," answered Father Herman; then he began to show how a person should love God. "If we love someone," he said, "we always think of him, strive to please him, day and night our heart is occupied with this subject. Is it thus that you, gentlemen, love God? Do you often turn to Him, do you always think of Him, do you always pray to Him, and fulfill His holy commandments?" It had to be acknowledged that they did not! "For our good, for our happiness," concluded the Elder, "at least let us make a promise to ourselves, that from this day, from this hour, from this very moment we shall strive to love God above all, and fulfill His holy will!" Behold what an intelligent, superb conversation Father Herman conducted in society; without doubt this conversation must have imprinted itself on the hearts of his listeners for their whole life!

-- Said of St. Herman of Alaska (d. 1837), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #341 on: April 21, 2017, 12:01:20 AM »
Having gone thus far, I will take the liberty to observe that, in my opinion, many, even of the best disposed amongst English divines, are apt to fall into a strange and dangerous delusion. This delusion is to suppose that not only every particular church can run into partial errors without ceasing to belong to Catholicity, but that the whole of the Catholic Church can likewise be obscured by temporary errors, either the same in every part of it, or different in the different communities, so that Truth is to be distilled out of the corrupt mass by the rule of quod semper, quod omnes, quod ubique. [Ed. - This is the phrase of Saint Vincent of Lerins: That which is believed everywhere, always and by all, is truly and properly catholic. It is sometimes called the Vincentian Canon.] I have lately had the pleasure of reading a book, with which you are probably acquainted, of Mr. Dewar about German Rationalism. I consider it a masterpiece of fair and sound logic, free from passions and prejudices. The sharp intelligence of the author has not only perfectly found out the reasons of the inevitable development of Rationalism in Protestant Germany, but has found its traces in Latinism, not withstanding its continual pretensions to the contrary. This is certainly a great truth which could be corroborated by many other and even stronger proofs; but, strange to say, Mr. Dewar excepts the Anglican Church from the general accusation, as if a community which confesses to a reform did not stand self-convicted of Rationalism!

Indeed, if the totality of the Church could ever have fallen into errors of doctrine, individual criticism would have become not only a right, but an unavoidable necessity; and that is nothing but Rationalism, though it may hide itself behind the well-sounding words of Testimony of the Fathers, whose writings are nothing but heaps of written pages; or, Authority of the Catholic Church, which has no meaning at all if it could not escape error; or, Tradition, which, once interrupted, ceases to exist; or even Inspiration from heaven, which every man can pretend to be favoured with, though no other believes his pretensions. The continual presence of the Holy Spirit is a promise given to us by Truth Itself; and if this promise is believed, the light of pure doctrine must burn and shine brightly, through all ages, seeking our eyes, even when unsought for. If it is once bedimmed, it is obscured for ever, and the Church must become a mere word without a meaning in it, or must be considered, as many German Protestants indeed do consider it, as a society of good men differing in all their opinions, but earnestly seeking for Truth with a total certainty that it has not yet been found, and with no hope at all ever to find it. These consequences are unavoidable, though some of your worthiest divines do not seem to admit them, and this is certainly a dangerous self-delusion.

-- Alexei Khomiakov (d. 1860), Second Letter to William Palmer

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #342 on: April 22, 2017, 02:10:46 PM »
Father Congar's book Divided Christendom, though very remarkable in many respects, remains, despite all his striving after objectivity, subject, in those pages which he devotes to the Orthodox Church, to certain preconceived notions. 'Where the West,' he says, 'on the basis at once developed and narrow of Augustinian ideology, claimed for the Church independence in life and organization, and thus laid down the lines of a very definite ecclesiology, the East settled down in practice, and to some extent in theory, to a principle of unity which was political, non-religious, and not truly universal.' To Father Congar, as to the majority of Catholic and Protestant writers who have expressed themselves on this subject, Orthodoxy represents itself under the form of a federation of national churches, having as its basis a political principles--the state-church.

One can venture upon such generalizations as these only by ignoring both the canonical groundwork and the history of the Eastern Church. The view which would base the unity of a local church on a political, racial or cultural principle is considered by the Orthodox Church as a heresy, specifically known by the name of philetism. It is the ecclesiastical territory, the area of sanctified by more or less ancient Christian tradition which forms the basis of a metropolitan province, administered by an archbishop or metropolitan, with the bishops from every diocese coming together from time to time in synod. If metropolitan provinces are grouped together to form local churches under the jurisdiction of a bishop who often bears the title of patriarch, it is still the community of local tradition and of historical destiny (as well as convenience in calling together a council from many providence), which determines the formation of these large circles of jurisdiction, the territories of which do not necessarily correspond to the political boundaries of a state.

(Footnote: Thus the Patriarchate of Moscow includes the dioceses of N. America and that of Tokyo beyond the frontiers of Russia. By contrast, the Catholicate of Georgia, though within the bounds of the U.S.S.R., does not form part of the Russian Church. The territories of the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jurusalem are politically dependent on many different powers.)

The Patriarch of Constantinople enjoys a certain primacy of honour, arbitrating from time to time in disputes, but without exercising a jurisdiction over the whole body of the oecumenical Church. The local churches of the East had more or less the same attitude towards the apostolic patriarchate of Rome--first see of the Church before the separation, and symbol of her unity. Orthodoxy recognizes no visible heard of the Church. The unity of the Church expresses itself through the communion of the heads of local churches, among themselves, by the agreement of all the churches in regard to a local council--which thus acquires a universal import; finally, in exceptional cases, it may manifest itself through a general council.

(Footnote: The name Oecumenical Council given in the East to the first seven general synods corresponds to a reality of a purely historical character. These are the councils of the 'oecumenical' territories, that is to say of the Byzantine Empire which extended (theoretically, at least) throughout the Christian world. In later epochs the Orthodox Church had known general councils which, without bearing the title of 'oecumenical' were neither smaller nor less important.)

The catholicity of the Church, far from being the privilege of any one see or specific centre, is realised rather in the richness and multipolicity of the local traditions which bear witness unanimously to the single Truth: to that which is preserved always, everywhere and by all. Since the Church is catholic in all her parts, each one of her members--not only the clergy, but also each layman--is called to confess and to defend the truth of tradition; opposing even the bishops should they fall into heresy. A Christian who has received the gift of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of the Holy Chrism must have a full awareness of his faith: he is responsible for the Church. Hence the restless and sometimes agitated character of the ecclesiastical life of Byzantium, or Russia, and of other countries in the Orthodox world.

This, however, is the price paid for a religious vitality, an intensity of spiritual life which penetrates the whole mass of believers, united in the awareness that they form a single body with the hierarchy of the Church. From this, too, comes the unconquerable energy which enables Orthodoxy to go through all trials, all cataclysms and upheavals, adopting itself continually to the new historical reality and showing itself stronger than outward circumstances. The persecutions of the faithful in Russia, the systematic fury of which has not been able to destroy the Church, are the best witness to a power which is not of this world.

-- Vladimir Lossky (d. 1958), The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, pp. 14-16

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #343 on: April 24, 2017, 06:38:33 PM »
The image of the Body is the commandment of love. "St. Paul demands such love of us, a love which should bind us one to the other, so that we no more shoul d be separated one from the other... St. Paul demands that our union should be as perfect as is that of the members of one body."1 The novelty of the Christian commandment of love consists in the fact that we are to love our neighbour as ourselves. This is more than putting him on the same level with ourselves, of identifying him with ourselves; it means seeing our own self in another, in the beloved one, not in our own self. Therein lies the limit of love; the beloved is our "alter ego," an "ego" which is dearer to us than ourself. In love we are merged into one. "The quality of love is such that the loving and the beloved are no more two but one man."2 Even more: true Christian love sees in every one of our brethren "Christ Himself." Such love demands self-surrender, self-mastery. Such love is possible only in a catholic expansion and transfiguration of the soul. The commandment to be catholic is given to every Christian. The measure of his spiritual manhood is the measure of his catholicity. The Church is catholic in every one of its members, because a catholic whole cannot be built up or composed otherwise than through the catholicity of its members.

1 St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Ephesians, 11
2 St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on First Corinthians, 33

-- Fr. Georges Florovsky (d. 1979), Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View, p. 42

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #344 on: April 25, 2017, 07:29:33 PM »
You write that during Great Lent you see [so-and-so] only on Saturdays and Sundays and visit her to drink mint tea, and that the nuns there wouldn't ever think of drinking real tea during Great Lent. Free-thinkers may think there's little difference between drinking real tea and an herbal infusion, when in fact, it is of no small significance. Every privation and every effort [to force oneself against one's pleasure] is of value in God's eyes. As the Gospel says "the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force" (Matt. 11:12). Those who boldly and willfully transgress the rules of fasting are called "enemies of the cross," "whose God is their belly and whose glory is in their shame" (Phil. 3:18-19). And in the Psalms it is said: "from the belly they are gone astray" (Ps. 58 LXX). It is, of course, quite another matter if someone transgresses the fast by reason of illness or bodily infirmity. But healthy people by fasting become healthier and kinder, and what's more, they often live longer, although they may look rather gaunt. During periods of fasting and abstinence the flesh is less rebellious, one is less inclined to be drowsy, fewer vain thoughts crawl into one's head, there is greater desire for spiritual reading and it is better retained.

-- St. Ambrose of Optina (d. 1891), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #345 on: April 26, 2017, 10:10:09 PM »
Repentance is very easy. It lies within man's intention. St. Mary of Egypt could not enter the church in Jerusalem, because some invisible power pushed her away. As soon as she recognized her offenses, she repented. She fell on her knees; she cried and chose the Lady Theotokos as the intercessor and guarantor of her repentance. The she got up and entered into the church, venerated the Precious Cross, and then embarked on a life of repentance and ceaseless asceticism. We people must realize and become aware that we are only dust and ashes. A moment comes when the soul is separated from the material body, and this fear of perceived death startles people and leads them to repentance...

Man's disposition, as we mentioned, is the power of the soul which dominates the body, and of the body which follows the soul. For this reason, if they transgress, both the soul and the body will be condemned in eternal hell. In the Symbol of our faith (Creed) we say that we look for the resurrection of the dead, where the sinners will proceed to the eternal fire, which 'is prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:42), and the righteous will inherit the 'kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world' (Matt. 25:34). So we have no excuse, we will go wherever we want, either to unending joy and life, or to eternal afflication and damnation.

The disposition goes hand in hand with the judgment which man possesses. All people are rational beings. Logic gives birth to judgment, and judgment gives birth to the advantage of each person. Everyone has a disposition. Even infants have a disposition. For this reason, when they see their parents, they run to them with joy, but when they see people they do not know they run away and cry.

-- Elder Anthimos of Saint Anne's (d. 1996), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #346 on: April 27, 2017, 07:20:59 PM »
The Panagia does not want big candles, she wants charity shown to the poor.

-- St. George of Drama (d. 1959), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #347 on: April 28, 2017, 08:53:17 PM »
People, until they come to know something greater, are satisfied with the little that they have. Man is like a village rooster who lives in a small enclosure with few people and farm animals about, who knows his ten hens and is content with this life, because he knows no more. But an eagle, who circles high in the clouds, and sees great distances with his sharp eyes, who hears the sounds of the earth and revels in its beauty, who knows many lands, seas and rivers, and sees a multitude of animals and birds, would not be content to live in a small enclosure with a rooster. It is the same in spiritual life. Whoever has not known the grace of the Holy Spirit is like the rooster who does not know the flight of the eagle; he cannot comprehend the sweetness of tender emotion and love of God. He knows God from nature and from Scripture, he is satisfied with the law and is content with his lot as is the rooster, and does not feel sorrow that he is not an eagle. But he who has experienced the Lord through the Holy Spirit, he prays day and night, because the grace of the Holy Spirit calls him to love the Lord, and the sweetness of the Lord’s love gives him the ability to carry the burdens of the world with ease; his soul pines only for the Lord and searches constantly for the grace of the Holy Spirit.

We are all suffering on this earth and searching for freedom, but few know what freedom is and where it can be found. The Lord gives the repentant His peace and the freedom to love Him. Oh, my brothers, all the earth, repent while you still have time. God awaits our repentance with mercy. And all the heavens, all the saints await our repentance. As God is love, so the Holy Spirit in the saints is love. Ask, and the Lord shall forgive. And when you receive absolution from your sins, then your soul will be joyful and happy, and the grace of the Holy Spirit will enter your soul, and you will say, "Here is true freedom: it is in God and of God." The grace of God does not hinder freedom, but only helps to keep the commandments of God. Adam was in grace, and his will was not fettered. So too the angels are in the Holy Spirit, but their free will is not taken away. The Lord wants us to love each other; this is the essence of freedom — love for God and for your neighbor. This is both freedom and equality. But in earthly titles there can be no equality; this is of no concern to the soul, however. Not everyone can be a king or a prince; not everyone can be a patriarch or an abbot, or a leader, but no matter what your title you can love God and serve Him, and that is all that matters. And whoever loves God more on earth shall be in greater glory in the Kingdom.


-- St. Silouan the Athonite (d. 1938), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #348 on: April 29, 2017, 09:21:37 PM »
Having created man, the Creator did not leave the first-created ones without His Providence. The grace of God dwelt constantly in our first ancestors and, in the expression of the Holy Fathers, served as a kind of heavenly clothing for them. They had a perfect feeling of closeness to God, God Himself was their first Instructor and Teacher and vouchsafed His immediate revelations to them. Appearing to them, He conversed with them and revealed His will to them. Chapters two and three of the book of Genesis depict for us the life of the first people. God placed Adam and Eve in Paradise, the Garden of Eden, the "Paradise of delight," where there grew every tree that was pleasant to the sight and good for food, commanding them to dress and keep it. The Garden of Eden was such a splendid place that the first people must have been involuntarily aroused to a feeling of joy and their minds raised to the most perfect Artist of the world. Labor itself must have facilitated the development both of their physical and spiritual powers.

As the writer of Genesis informs us, God brought all living creatures to man so that he might name them. It is clear that on the one hand this gave man the opportunity to become acquainted with the wealth and variety of the animal kingdom, and, on the other, facilitated the development of his mental capabilities, giving him a more complete knowledge of himself by comparison with the world which lay before his eyes, and an awareness of his royal superiority over all the other creatures of earth. Understandably, the original condition of the first people was one of spiritual childhood and simplicity joined to moral purity. But this condition contained the opportunity for a speedy and harmonious development and growth of all man's powers, directed towards a moral likeness to God and the most intimate union with Him. Man's mind was pure, bright, and sound. But at the same time it was a mind limited and untested by the experience of life, as was revealed at the time of the fall into sin. Man's mind had yet to develop and be perfected.

Morally, the first-created man was pure and innocent. The words, "They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Gen. 2:25), is interpreted by St. John Damascene as "the pinnacle of dispassion." However, one should not understand this purity of the first people as meaning that from the very beginning they already possessed all virtues and were not in need of perfection. No, Adam and Eve, although they came from the hands of the Creator pure and innocent, had yet to be confirmed in the good and grow spiritually, with the help of God, by means of their own actions. "Man," as St. Irenaeus expresses it, "having received existence, was to grow and mature, then become strong, and, reaching full maturity should be glorified and, being glorified, should be vouchsafed to see God."

Man came from the hands of the Creator faultless also in body. His body, so remarkable in its organization, without any doubt received no inward or outward defects from the Creator. It possessed faculties which were fresh and uncorrupted. It had in itself not the least disorder and was able to be free of diseases and sufferings. Indeed, diseases and sufferings are presented in the book of Genesis as the consequences of our first ancestors' fall and as chastisements for sin. Additionally, the Book of Genesis gives a mystical indication of the Tree of Life, the tasting of which was accessible to the first ancestors before the fall into sin and preserved them from physical death. Death was not a necessity for man: "God created man neither completely mortal nor immortal, but capable of both the one and the other" (Theophilus of Antioch; see in Bishop Sylvester, An Essay in Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, vol. 3, p. 379).

But no matter how perfect the natural powers of man were, as a limited creature he required even then constant strengthening from the Source of all life, from God, just as do all created beings. Appropriate means for man's strengthening on the path of good were needed. Such an elementary means was the commandment not to taste of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was a commandment of obedience. Free obedience is the path to moral advancement. Where there is voluntary obedience there is (a) the cutting off of the way to self-esteem, (b) respect and trust for that which is above us, and (c) continence. Obedience acts beneficially upon the mind, humbling its pride; upon the feelings, limiting self-love; and upon the will, directing the freedom of man towards the good. The grace of God cooperates and strengthens one on this path. This was the path which lay before the first people, our first ancestors.

-- Fr. Michael Pomazansky (d. 1988), Orthodox Dogmatic Theology

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #349 on: May 02, 2017, 01:42:32 AM »
It is true, according to St. Isaac, that human knowledge is not faulty, but faith is higher (p.256). Knowledge is perfected by faith, since "knowledge is a step whereby a man can climb up to the lofty height of faith" (p.257). When faith comes, what is in part is abolished. Then "it is by our faith that we learn those things that cannot be comprehended by the investigation and power of knowledge" (p.257). All the works of righteousness which are the virtues, that is, fasting, alms, vigil, holiness and all the "rest of such works performed with the body" and all those which are performed in the soul, that is, love for one's neighbor, humility of heart, forgiving "those who have sinned", recollection of good things, investigation of the mysteries concealed in the Scriptures, the mind's occupation with good works, the bridling of the soul's passions, and the rest of such virtues, "all these require knowledge". Knowledge "guards them and teaches their order". And all these things are steps by which the soul ascends "to the more lofty height of faith". However, "faith's way of life is more exalted than virtue's labour, and it is not labour but perfect rest, consolation, and is accomplished in the heart and within the soul" (p.256-7).

-- Metr. Hierotheos Vlachos (b. 1945), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #350 on: May 04, 2017, 11:46:08 AM »
Holiness is not simply righteousness, for which the righteous merit the enjoyment of blessedness in the Kingdom of God, but rather such a height of righteousness that men are filled with the Grace of God to such an extent, that it flows from them, upon those who associate with them. Great is their blessedness, which proceeds from personal experience of the Glory of God. Being filled also with love for men, which proceeds from love of God, they are responsive to men's needs and upon their supplication, they also appear as intercessors and defenders before God. At the time of the high spiritual fervor in the first centuries of persecutions against Christians, such were the "martyrs also. The martyr's death became a door to the higher Mansions, and Christians at once began to invoke them as holy men pleasing to God. Miracles and signs confirmed this faith of the Christians and were a proof of their sanctity. Subsequently, the great ascetics likewise, began to be revered. No one decreed the veneration as saints such as Anthony the Great, Macarius the Great, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, Nicholas the Wonder-worker, and many others like them, but East and West equally revered them. Their sanctity can be denied only by those who do not believe in sanctity.

-- St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco (d. 1966), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #351 on: May 05, 2017, 04:24:25 PM »
Christ's Baptism is seen in the Orthodox tradition as possessing a cosmic significance, as embracing the whole created order. His Baptism is in a sense the reverse of our own. In our case, Baptism is a purification from sin. But Christ is sinless; why, then, should He be baptized? Such precisely is the query posed by St. John the Baptist: "I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" (Mt. 3:14) The Orthodox answer to this question can best be put in simple picture language. We are dirty; at Baptism we go down into clean water and we come out cleansed. At our Baptism, then, we are sanctified by the waters. But Christ is clean; at His Baptism He goes down into the dirty water and Himself cleanses the waters, making them pure. As we affirm in the liturgical texts for the feast of Epiphany, "Today the Master has come to sanctify the nature of the waters." At His Baptism it is not the waters that sanctify Christ, but Christ who imparts holiness to the waters, and so by extension to the entire material creation.

If we speak of the waters as "dirty," by this we mean that the world around us, while filled with meaning and beauty, is yet a fallen world, broken and shattered, marred by suffering and sinfulness. Into this fallen world God Himself enters, accepting a total solidarity with it, assuming into Himself the entirety of our human nature, body, soul and spirit. Through this act of assumption at His Incarnation and through all that follows after it--through His Baptism in the streams of Jordan, His Transfiguration, Crucifixion and Resurrection--Christ cleanses and heals the marred and fallen world, effecting the renewal not of humankind alone but of the whole creation. What we are doing, then, at each celebration of Epiphany, at every Blessing of the Waters, is ti reaffirm our sense of wonder before the essential goodness and beauty of the world, as originally created by God and as now recreated in Christ. Nothing is intrinsically ugly or despicable; it is solely our distorted vision that makes it seem so. Through the power of God incarnate shown in His Baptism in the Jordan, all persons and all things can be made holy, can be transfigured and rendered Spirit-bearing. All things are capable of acting as sacraments of God's presence. As we express it in one of our Epiphany hymns:

At Thine appearing in the body,
The earth was sanctified,
The water blessed,
the heaven illumined,
And humankind delivered
From the bitter tyanny of the enemy.

-- Met. Kallistos Ware (b. 1934), The Inner Kingdom

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #352 on: May 06, 2017, 08:17:47 PM »
A man who has attained dispassion receives, as it were, a diploma with the right to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven and becomes a converser with the angels and saints. A man who has not conquered the passions cannot be in Paradise—he’s detained at the tollhouses. But let’s assume that he has entered Paradise; he’ll be in no state to remain there, however—and what is more, he himself wouldn’t want to. As difficult as it is for an ill-bred man to be in the society of those that are well bred, so would it be impossible for a passionate man to be in the society of those that are dispassionate. The envious would remain envious, even in Paradise, and the proud, even in Heaven, would not become humble.

-- St. Barsanuphius of Optina (d. 1913), Source

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #353 on: May 07, 2017, 07:09:35 PM »
First of all, my child, know that there are great differences from man to man and monk to monk. There are souls with a soft character that are very easily persuaded. there are also souls with a tough character that are not subordinated so easily. They are as different as cotton is from iron. Cotton needs only to be rubbed with words, but iron requires fire and a furnace of temptations to be worked. Such a soul must be patient during temptations to be purified. When a monk does not have patience, he is like a lamp without oil: soon it will burn out. So, when a person with a nature harder than iron comes to be a monk, as soon as he enters the arena, he rebels against obedience. Immediately he breaks his promises and gives up the battle. Then you see that as soon as grace withdraws a little to test his intentions and patience, at once he throws away his weapons and starts regretting that he came to be a monk. Then he passes his days full of disobedience and bitterness, always talking back arrogantly. Then, through the prayers of his elder, grace disperses the clouds of temptations somewhat so that he comes to his senses a little and mends his ways. But soon afterwards he returns once more to his own will, to disobedience, agitation, and annoyance.

You write about the brother you see there and are amazed that although he works so hard at his diakonema [service/tasks], his ego within still overcomes him. But do you think it is easy for man to conquer a passion? Good deeds and almsgiving and all other external good things do not subdue the haughtiness of one's heart. But mental work, the pain of repentance, contrition, and humility are what humble the unsubmissive spirit. An insubordinate person is unbearable and toilsome to deal with. Only with utter patience can he be handled. Only with utter patience on behalf of the elders and with the forbearance and love of the brethren can stiff-necked disciples come to their senses. But behold: many times they, too, are as useful as your right hand. Almost always such people, who are in some way more gifted than the others, humble themselves with difficulty. they think highly of themselves and look down on others.

So a great deal of hard work and patience are needed until this old foundation of pride is dug up, and another foundation is set with Christ's humility and obedience. But the Lord, seeing their efforts and good intentions, allow another trial to come upon them which counteracts their passion, and by His mercy, He "Who will have all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4) saves them too. As for you, emulate whomever you want. It would be wonderful if everyone had a good character, humility, and obedience. But if one's nature happens to be tougher than iron, he should not despair. he needs to struggle, and by the grace of God he can win. God is not unjust in His expectations. he seeks repayment according to the gifts He has given.

-- St. Joseph the Hesychast (d. 1959), Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast, 3rd Letter

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #354 on: May 08, 2017, 04:42:34 PM »
If St. Basil the Great or St. Gregory of Nyssa could approach the Genesis creation stories as they did, it is because they discern in, through, and beyond the so-called historical count other levels of meaning. If St. Ephrem the Syrian and St. Andrew of Crete could interpret person and events of the Old Testament as images of Paradise and of the human soul, it is because they, too, discern in, through and beyond the biblical text transcendent reality and meaning. if a literal, historical reading of the biblical text is necessary yet inadequate, it is because Scripture is iconic, sacramental. It images and gives actual participation in divine reality, as that reality enfolds and transfigures every aspect of our daily life.

One of the most insightful biblical interpreters of our day is Frances Young, a Methodist theologian who taught for many years in a noted British University. Earlier we quoted from her book, Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of Christian Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). There she speaks about the current secularized worldview that hampers interpreters of the Bible in their attempts to uncover its true message because of the inability of that worldview to perceive transcendent, spiritual reality present and acting within the material universe. Young notes that a culture "receives" a text in such a way that the meaning of the text is accepted or contested depending on the "plausibility structures" of that culture. Where the plausibility structures of a particular mind-set do not allow for an interpenetration of transcendent, spiritual reality in the material world, then the ultimate criterion for what is true will be factuality: that is, whether the matter in question is objectively real and therefore historically determinable. And the biblical narratives will be considered true to the degree that they can be shown to recount such historical realities accurately.

To acquire the "mind of the Fathers" is to adopt and internalize "structures of plausibility" that see beyond historical facts to the transcendent, divine presence revealed in those facts. The Exodus, like the Exile into Babylon, is grounded in historical occurrence; some such liberation from Egypt actually happened. It it became the founding myth--the powerful, saving metaphor--of Israel's identity and spiritual destiny, it is because God was at work through that occurrence, but also through its interpretation in Israel's sacred literature. The same may be said for the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ, which we affirm without qualification to be historical events. Yet for those events to have meaning for us--to work their saving power in our lives--they must first be interpreted for us by the biblical authors, and then received by us in faith. Our worldview must be marked by a profound plausibility, a bedrock conviction that the material universe is indeed interpenetrated by another reality, a reality that is God--transcendent divine Life--who is present and active in every aspect of material reality, with the aim of leading us through this world and into His eternal Embrace.

Why read the writings of the Holy Fathers? Because those venerable elders perceived what each of us needs and longs to perceive. Firmly anchored in history, their spiritual vision enabled them to open the eyes of mind and soul to the beauty and glory of divine Reality, as it reveals itself and makes itself accessible in and through Scripture and Tradition, as well as in and through the most mundane aspects of our daily existence. The Fathers were not more objective than biblical scholars and theologians are today. They, too, gave subjective interpretations to events in the writings they have passed on to us. What makes their witness so unique and so valuable is their capacity to perceive, precisely in and through historical reality, the actual--the utterly real--presence of the living, loving, and life-giving God. They beheld, encountered, worshiped and served God in the fallen material world, in the very midst of everyday life. And they invite us to do the same.

-- Fr. John Breck (b. 1939), Longing For God: Orthodox Reflections on Bible, Ethics and Liturgy, pp. 71-73

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #355 on: May 09, 2017, 10:06:40 PM »
The Byzantine renaissance, contemporary with the Carolingian renovatio, came into being only with the resurgence of the orthodox veneration of icons in the last two decades of the eighth century. It would, however, be a mistake to think that this renaissance owed nothing to iconoclasm, and was in some way its antithesis. The renewal it represents must have built on the revived prosperity and discovered sense of identity that had been secured by the long and militarily successful reigns of the first two iconoclast emperors. Even the intellectual renewal is likely to have owed something to the scholarly return to the sources that marked both sides of the iconoclast controversy, the iconoclasts themselves as well as their iconophile opponents. Nikephoros, in his Brief History, tells us that education in the Byzantine Empire was in a state of decay by the beginning of the eighth century: a result of the inroads made by emergent Islam, both in territorial terms and in terms of Byzantium's self-confidence.

But the intellectual revival at the end of the century cannot have grown out of nothing. It is interesting to note that Greek culture had been better preserved under Islam than in the Byzantine Empire itself: John of Damascus is a striking example of the survival of Hellenism under Islam, and he is not an isolated example. There were, however, scholars, trained in letters, around at the end of the century, young men like Theodore of Stoudios, and older men such as Tarasios, Eirene's choice as patriarch, but where they acquired their learning we cannot say. It was, however, such as these who provided the seeds of the revival to come. leo the Deacon, whom we shall encounter later, ascribed his knowledge of Greek prosody to Tarasios; for Theodore, as we have already seen, the intellectual revival was bound up with his monastic reform, for it provided the resources needed to gain access to the ascetics who inspired him, and the Stoudite monasteries seem to have played an important part in the revival itself--the earlier example of the use of the cursive minuscule script for literary text, in the so-called Uspensky Gospels, comes from Stoudite circles, though that does not mean that the use of the minuscule script was itself a Stoudite innovation. The evidence for the beginnings of the renaissance can readily be set out. To the lull between the first and second periods of iconoclasm belongs the revival of both forms of history writing characteristic to Byzantium, as well as a revival of hagiography...


-- Fr. Andrew Louth (b. 1944), Greek East and Latin West: The Church AD 681-1071, pp. 152-153

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #356 on: May 14, 2017, 08:10:54 PM »
The knowledge of God which arose from Abraham's personal encounter with him has nothing to do with theoretical assumptions, reductive syllogisms and logical proofs. It was an experience of relationship only and, like every true relationship, it was based only on the faith or trust which is born between those who are in a relationship with one another. God proved his divinity to Abraham only by his faithfulness to his promises. And Abraham trusted God, to the point of being ready to sacrifice the child whom Sarah had given him in her old age--this child who was the presupposition for the fulfillment of the promises of God.

Isaac and Jacob, the son and grandson of Abraham, have the same knowledge of God from immediate experience of a personal relationship with him. So, for the descendants of the family from which the people of Israel arise, God is neither an abstract concept nor an impersonal power. When the Hebrews speak about God, they say, "The God of our fathers." He is "The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob," an actual person whom their ancestors knew and with whom they associated. The knowledge of God is based on faith and trust in their ancestors, in the trustworthiness of their testimony.

-- Christos Yannaras (b. 1935), Elements of Faith: An Introduction to Orthodoxy Theology, p. 8

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #357 on: May 16, 2017, 06:30:37 PM »
(note: I apologize for the length, but I thought the info interesting enough, and it's also in book form so I had no way to give easy access to the rest on the internet; hopefully breaking it into two parts will make it a little easier to go through; footnotes are excluded but I can give them if needed)

Origen uses the word oikumene to denote the inhabited world and in it he sees the inhabitants of the churches of God. But he gives to the word another sense too: that of the soul which has Christ in it, because otherwise it is a desert, "is the oikumene when it is filled with God, when it has Christ, when the Holy Spirit is within it." Like the soul which sinned and God erected the oikumene i.e. the soul, so the oikumene in its general sense has fallen and then was restored. Origen thinks of the oikumene as comprised of people who have fallen into sin and were restored through Jesus Christ.

Eusebius during the fourth century, in his commentary on Psalm 16:15, clearly identified the oikumene with the Church. Analyzing his thought, he says that the foundation of the oikumene is the power of the wisdom of God, by which in the days of old the faith was founded and the oikumene thus made secure. If you like, he continues, you can take the Church of God as the oikumene; its foundation is the uncracked and solid stone upon which she was built (Matt. 16:18) and that is Christ (1 Cor. 10:4; 3:19). Apostolic and prophetic words are also its foundation (Eph. 2:20). Since the enemies of God, who obscured our minds, have been put away, we are liberated to perceive the foundation of the oikumene, i.e. of the Church. In other cases Eusebius identifies the oikumene with the whole world, which was filled with the power of the Saviour and in which Christ's Gospel was proclaimed. In other of his works we find also the simple geographical sense of the oikumene, which he believes to be divided in seven "climates."

Athanasius is aware of the double meaning of the word. In a geographical sense, according to him, the power of the Cross has filled the oikumene. He also identified the oikumene with the Church, implying that it is extended over the whole known world. St. John Chrysostom accepts the geographical sense of the word but in another place identifies the oikumene with territories conquered by Alexander the Great. Later, in the seventh century, Maximus the Confessor in a sort of mystical reduction said that the earth is divided into paradise and the oikumene. But Christ has united these two and formed one earth which is not divided into different parts; he has sanctified the oikumene. Therefore because it does not differ from paradise, He appeared to His disciples and lived with them after the resurrection, showing thus that the earth is one and undivided. In its older meaning oikumene designated the missionary field for the propagation of the new faith. Once the faith had been proclaimed throughout the known world, the term oikumene came to be identified with the Church. Still later on the Church, the oikumene, was called paradise, because Christ had united both Church and oikumene indissolubly.

-- John Anastasiou, Councils and the Ecumenical Movement,  pp. 24-25
« Last Edit: May 16, 2017, 06:30:56 PM by Asteriktos »

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #358 on: May 16, 2017, 06:31:17 PM »
This idea of the emperor as sovereign of the oikumene and of the bishop of Contantinople as president of the whole Church, is clearly expressed by Theodoret of Cyrus in the fifth century: he says of Nestorius that he was elected canonically by "the one who at the time held the sceptre of the oikumene" and in this manner was entrusted with the presidency (proedrain) "of the Orthodox Catholic Church in Constantinople, which is not less than the whole oikumene."

St. John Chrysostom called St. Paul "The Apostle of the oikumene" and in this way the title "ecumenical teacher" or "teacher of the oikumene" was attributed to the most eminent Fathers of the Church. Theodosius II called St. John Chrysostom "ecumenical teacher" in the sense that he was the teacher of the whole Christian world. St. Gregory of Nazianzus says of St. Basil the Great, "out of one town of Caesaria the whole oikumene is illuminated." Thedoret of Cyrus adds, "at that time there was in Caesaria Basil the Great, the shining light of the oikumene" and "ecumenical teacher." Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom were recognized by the Orthodox Church as teachers of the oikumene, and in church hymns they are referred to as those who "have illuminated the oikumene through the rays of divine teachings."

The title "ecumenical teacher" was attributed in the seventh century to Stephanos. In the time of the Emperor Heraclius he reintroduced the study of philosophy to Constantinople where he directed the "ecumenical didaskaleion," i.e. the Higher School of Constantinople. This title had a purely honorific character and in a like manner great jurists were called teachers of the oikumene. The title continued to designate the director of the "ecumenical didaskaleion" of Constantinople and in the eleventh century denoted the expounder of the Gospel.

Since the title developed in this way and the boundaries of Church and Empire were identical, a special title for the archbishop of Constantinople also evolved. In earlier times the archbishops of Armenia and Georgia were addressed as katholikos, i.e. general. The pope of Rome had the title universalis, i.e. general, ecumenical. Even the bishops of the East addressed him in this way: at the Synod of Chalcedon deacon Theodore of Alexandria addressed him as "the most holy and most blessed and ecumenical Archbishop and Patriarch of great Rome, Leo." This title was given to the pope of Rome in later times also. Bu the bishop of Evazon, Olympios, at the synod of Ephesus of 449 addressed Dioskoros as "ecumenical Patriarch."

The second and fourth Ecumenical Councils elevated the archbishop of Constantinople to the first rank in the East and second after the pope of Rome and so he received the same seniority of honour. This elevation was justified on account of the high position which was attributed to Constantinople, the New Rome, the capital of the Empire. Since Constantinople was elevated and became the capital of the Empire it was identified with the oikumene and the capital of the Church. Therefore the title of the archbishop of the capital was changed accordingly. Acacius (472-482) was first addressed as ecumenical. Pope Felix protested and wrote nescio quemadmodum te ecclesiae totius asseras esse principem. John the Cappadocian in 518 was addressed by the clergy and the monks of Antioch as "ecumenical." Justinian believed that the Empire should again acquire its old boundarities and struggled to restore them. He naturally identified more than anyone else the word oikumene with the Byzantine Empire and it is due to this that the title of ecumenical is given by Nearae and the synodical letters to the patriarchs of his time.

John IV, the Faster, (582-595) tried the Patriarch of Antioch who was accused of uncanonical acts. He is referred to as "ecumenical" in the minutes of the Synod, but he never used the title himself in his signature. At that synod the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Jerusalem were present and they didn't protest. But Pope Pelagius (578-590) protested and even more so did Gregory the Great (590-604). Pelagius wrote episcopum universalem se subscribere. (The word scribere of Pelagius was falsified to subscribere by the Pseudo-Isidorian decretals.) Balsamon in the 12th century knows that the patriarch himself does not use this title "and his own signature as ecumenical does not magnify the father, although by us he is called and glorified so."

When patriarchs were confined to Nicaea after the fall of Constantinople to the crusaders of the fourth Crusade, Germanos II (1222-1240) used the title oecumenicos in his signature. This leads to the conclusion that when he was addressed by others as ecumenical he did not claim to be sovereign of the whole Church. The patriarchs regarded this title simply as honorific, because they were bishops of the capital of the Empire which extended throughout the oikumene. That it had such a meaning is shown by the fact that other thrones were also called ecumenical, just so that their significance and valour would be exalted; in this way it is said "the bishops of the great ecumenical thrones, I say, of Rome and Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem."

We have previously remkared that the meaning of "catholic" was identified with the meaning of "orthodoxy." The identification of the meaning of oikumene with the meaning of the Church resulted also in the identification of oikumene with orthodoxy. Whatever was ecumenical was also orthodox. If one was not orthodox, he was cut off from the oikumene, i.e. from the catholic Church, and was disapproved of by it.

-- John Anastasiou, Councils and the Ecumenical Movement,  pp. 26-27

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Modern Church Fathers
« Reply #359 on: May 17, 2017, 10:23:49 PM »
But one should not forget that, already in the pre-eternal Adam, God had foreseen the image of the New Adam, just as in Eve He had foreseen the image of the New Eve. It is therefore idle to ask whether the Incarnation would have taken place if Adam had not fallen, since this very category of possibility or indeterminancy is inapplicable to the proper ways of God, for which there can be no either/or. The Incarnation is immanent to the very creation of the world, which has its head and center in man, the living image of God. That is why the redemption which is included in the Incarnation, is thus, as a possibility, equally immanent to the creation of the world. Man is a creature of God; in virtue of his creatureliness he contains relativity or changeability, which includes the possibility of sin. This possibility is a constantly threatening reality that cannot be overcome by the powers of the creature alone. The Creator Himself takes it upon Himself to overcome this possibility: He takes it upon Himself to overcome not only sin but even creatureliness itself. With this He concludes His creation and thereby justifies the act of creation.

If not for this divine action, creation would inevitably be imperfect in virtue of its origination out of nothing and thus in virtue of the limitedness and changeability of creaturely freedom. God cannot abandon the world--which, although it is perfect in the initial state of its creation ("it was good"), has in itself the inevitable ontological imperfection of creatureliness and the resulting incompleteness--to its own fate (as the Deists teach). A further task arises in connection with the creation of the world: the task of overcoming its creatureliness, of making the creation of uncreated or supercreated, of deifying it. Such is true theodicy, which is precisely the Incarnation. Such is the cost of creation for God Himself, such is the sacrifice of God's love manifested in the creation of the world: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16). Christ's cross is inscribed in creation at its very origin, and in its initial act the world is already called to receive Divinity into its depths.

-- Fr. Sergie Bulgakov (d. 1944), The Lamb of God
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