Mercy has brought you into this house full of profit – The Flute of the Spirit

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Come, you discerning, let us delight today in the teaching, whose taste is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.

The Church in the world is a great harbour, full of peace; whoever toils, let him come in and rest at her table. Her doors are open, and her eye is good, and her heart is wide. Her table is full, and sweet is her mingled (cup) to them that are worthy. You lovers of the world, come in from wandering in the evil world, and rest in the inn that is full of comfort to him that enters it. You weary labourer, that strives to enrich yourself by vexatious toilings, why do you run after riches that cannot be held fast? O you rich, that go astray with your riches, possess God, and hate the wealth that after a little while shall not be yours. O you unquiet soul, that cleaves after gold, woe to you for that which spends you with your toiling after it! O you that are greedy of mammon, incline your ear hear, and cast from you that grievous load which does not profit you.

Come to prayer, and bring with you your whole self. Let not your mind remain in the market about your business. If you are here, let also your inner man be here within the doors of the crowned (bride). Why is your thought gone forth and distracted after affairs, so that when you art here you art not here, but there? Outside amid the markets your mind is wandering, (taken up) with reckonings and profits; fetch it, that it may come in and ask for its Life. Stand not with one half of you within and one half without, lest when you are divided your prayer lose itself between the two parts. Stand at prayer a united and complete and true man, and all whatever you ask you can obtain from God. Why are you impatient to be off when He has not given to you? Stay long and knock at the Physician, and beseech Him, and bring the tears of repentance and besprinkle His doorstep; entreat much; and if for love He does not give to you, yet to persistence He will not be able to deny all her requests. Be insistent at the Physician’s door, and give not over; for if you be backward He will not bind you up. Why do you stand still? Persistence knows how to obtain mercy of Him; and unless He give to her she will not suffer Him to depart.

O you penitent, be insistent; and whatever you ask, you shall receive from the Giver of all things good. Why art you impatient to be gone about your business? Why are you disquieted to depart and go about your affairs? Why do you run after the world which may not be kept fast? Why have you spent your days in vanity? Why are the hours of the Church esteemed by you as idleness? Why is the service not accounted by you as a banquet? Why are you diligent when you do your own work, but here remiss and cold and slack in asking?

Mercy has brought you into this house that is full of profit; think it not loss if you remain here long. Be patient and listen to the sound of the Psalms which the finger of prophecy played to the words of David. Hearken to the Hymns sung by chaste women with voices of praise, which the wisdom of the Highest has given to the congregations. Hear the Prophets who, as it were through pipes of choice gold, pour forth from their mouths life into the ears of men. Hearken to the Apostles who, like the channels of rivers, arc opened and water the King’s garden with lofty streams. Bend your ear to the pulpit of the Godhead, and receive from it precious pearls. Learn and give assent to the (two) Testaments, rivers both which hold for you life unending. Hear the New, and hearken to the Old; and see that in both one truth is spoken unto you. Lo, you hear from the Old of the four rivers which flowed from the blessed source of Eden; and again in the New (you have) the Apostles like four rivers, who went forth into the four corners (of the world) and watered them.

Life flows from the service of the house of God; you lovers of life, refuse not the profit that comes from there. The soul of man is receptive of impressions and in whatsoever she meditates, she is dyed withal and becomes (the colour) of the same. When she hears the dirges of the wailing women, she overflows with grief and pours out tears over the departed; and when again she hears the songs and jests of the actors she waxes wanton, that with a loud voice she may pour forth laughter. When she hears evil reports, dread comes upon her; but if she hears good tidings, she is glad. And every wind that blows towards her moves her; and in whatsoever direction it be, each time she turns. When, then, she hears the sound of the service of God’s house, spiritually she is moved with love towards God; and as it were she despises the evil world and its affairs, and comes in and mingles with these godly meditations; and she cleaves to and loves that spiritual conversation. She scorns the world and its affairs and its doings; and she is steeped in these voices of holiness, and all carnal thoughts depart from her. And the soul scorns the love of the world and its pleasures, and thoughts of wantonness and remissness. And when she hears these voices that are sung to her, she is chaste and lowly and full of hope and moderation. Therefore it is right that he who enters in to give himself to prayer should be long in God’s house.

[On the Reception of the Holy Mysteries, Mar Jacob of Serugh]

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Be at peace – St. John Chrysostom

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God is not a God of war and fighting. Make war and fighting to cease, both that which is against Him, and that which is against your neighbor. Be at peace with all men, consider with what character God saves you. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9). Such always imitate the Son of God: you imitate Him too. Be at peace.

The more your brother wars against you, by so much the greater will be your reward. For hear the prophet who says, With the haters of peace I was peaceful (Psalm 120:7) This is virtue, this is above man’s understanding, this makes us near God; nothing so much delights God as to remember no evil. This sets you free from your sins, this looses the charges against you: but if we are fighting and buffeting, we become far off from God: for enmities are produced by conflict, and from enmity springs remembrance of evil.

[St. John Chrysostom, Homily XIV on Philippians]

Excerpt from Gospel of the Day – The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me – Luke 4:14-30, 1st of Tout– St. Cyril the Pillar of Faith

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“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; therefore He has anointed Me: He has sent Me to preach the Gospel to the poor.” (Luke 10:21-24)

He plainly shows by these words that He took upon Him the humiliation and submission to the emptying (of His glory), and both the very name of Christ and the reality for our sakes: for the Spirit, He says, which by nature is in Me by the sameness of Our substance and deity, also descended upon Me from without. And so also in the Jordan, It came upon Me in the form of a dove, not because It was not in Me, but for the reason for which He anointed Me. And what was the reason for which He chose to be anointed? It was our being destitute of the Spirit by that denunciation of old, “My Spirit shall not abide in these men, because they are flesh” (Gen 6:3).

But let us consider the words which He addresses to His Father respecting us and in our behalf. “You have hidden, He says, all these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes: Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight” (Mat 11:25-6). For God the Father has revealed unto us the mystery, which before the foundations of the world was hidden and reserved in silence with Him: even the Incarnation of the Only-begotten, which was foreknown indeed before the foundations of the world, but revealed to its inhabitants in the last ages of the world. For the blessed Paul writes, that “to me who am the least of all saints, has this grace been given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and clearly teach them all, what is the dispensation of the mystery that for ages has been hid in God Who created all” (Eph 3:8). The great and adorable mystery of our Saviour was hidden therefore even before the foundations of the world, in the knowledge of the Father. And in like manner we also were foreknown and foreordained to the adoption of sons. And this again the blessed Paul teaches us, thus writing, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven in Christ, according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him, having foreordained us in love to the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ unto Himself” (Eph 1). To us therefore, as unto babes, the Father has revealed the mystery that for ages had been hidden and reserved in silence.

And yet multitudes of men have preceded us in the world past numbering, who, as far as words went, were wise, who had a practised and skilful tongue, and beauty of writing, and grandeur of expression, and no mean reputation for wisdom: but as Paul said, “They had become empty in their reasonings, and their foolish heart was darkened: while professing to be wise, they had made themselves fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of corruptible man, and into that of birds, and four-footed beasts and reptiles. For this cause they were given up to a reprobate mind;” “and God made the wisdom of this world to be folly” (1 Cor 3:19) neither did He show unto them the mystery. And to us too it is written, “Whosoever seems to be wise in this world, let him become foolish, in order that he may become wise: for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Cor 3:18). It may truly therefore be affirmed, that he who possesses merely and by itself the wisdom of the world, is foolish and without understanding before God: but that he who seems to be a fool to the wise men of the world, but possesses in his mind and heart the light of the true vision of God, is wise before God. And Paul again confirms this, saying, “For Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach: not with wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ be made ineffectual. For the speech of the cross is to them who are perishing foolishness; but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and take away the understanding of the prudent” (1 Cor 1:17-19). And to others also he sent, saying, “For see your calling, brethren: that there are not among you many wise men after the flesh: nor many mighty, nor many of high birth; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, that He may confound the wise” (1 Cor 1:26-7). To those therefore who seemed to be foolish, by which is meant, men of an innocent and guileless mind, and simple as a child in wickedness, the Father has revealed His Son, as being themselves also foreknown and foreordained to the adoption of sons.

Nor is it in my opinion unreasonable to add also the following. The Scribes and Pharisees, who held high rank among the Jews, as having the reputation of legal learning, were regarded as wise men. But they were convicted by the very result of not being so in reality. For even the prophet Jeremiah thus somewhere addressed them: “How say you, that we are wise, and the word of the Lord is with us? The lying cord of the scribe is for emptiness. The wise men are ashamed; they fear and are taken: what wisdom is in. them, because they have rejected the word of the Lord?” (Jer 8:8-9). Because then they rejected the word of the Saviour, that is, the saving message of the Gospel, or in other language, the Word of God the Father, Who for our sakes became man, they have themselves been rejected. For again the prophet Jeremiah said of them, “Call you them rejected silver, because the Lord has rejected them” (Jer 6:30). And the mystery of Christ was also hid from them: for He somewhere even said to his disciples concerning them, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to them it is not given” (Mat 13:11). “To you,” that is, to whom? Plainly to those who believed: to those who have recognised His appearing, who understand the law spiritually, who can perceive the meaning of the previous revelation of the prophets, who acknowledge that He is God and the Son of God, to them the Father is pleased to reveal His Son: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

 [St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, Sermon XII]

Love covers a multitude of sins – Abba Poemen

[On this day, the Church commemorates the departure of the great Abba Poemen, a shining star of the wilderness. This Father is the most heavily quoted in the Apophthegmata, his intercessions be with us all].

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Some old men came to Abba Poemen and said to him, “When we see brothers who are dozing at the synaxis (services), shall we rouse them so they will be watchful?” He said to them, “For my part when I see a brother dozing, I put his head on my knees and let him rest.”

[Abba Poemen, Apophthegmata Patrum]

Patience in the trial – Apophthegmata Patrum

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A certain brother, who had vanquished Satan in every thing, subsequently had his eyes blinded by Satan so that he could not see, yet this blessed man did not pray for himself, and that he might be able to see, but he only prayed that he might be able to endure patiently his trial; and through his constancy his eyes were opened.

[Apophthegmata Patrum]

Without You I am a stranger to everything – The Spiritual Elder

Coptic monk praying in original cave of St. Anthony.

O You who wept and shed tears of sorrow over Lazarus, receive my bitter tears; may my passions be allayed by Your Passion; may my wounds be healed by Your wounds, my blood be blended with Your Blood, and the lifegiving fragrance of Your Holy Body be mingled with my body. May the bitter drink that was given to You by your enemies soothe my soul, which has been made to drink wormwood by the evil one. May Your Body, which was stretched out on the tree, expand my mind to You, which has been shrunk by the demons. May Your head bent on the cross lift up my head, which has been buffeted by impure men. May Your pure hands, which were transfixed with nails by unbelievers, draw me up to You from the abyss of evil, as your mouth has promised. May Your face, which has received the shameful spitting of accursed men, cleanse my face, which has become odious through it’s sins. May Your soul, with you did commit to the Your Father on the cross, bring me to You by Your grace.

I have no tears of supplication, Lord; I have no contrite heart for seeking You; I have not the repentance and compunction that turns sons back to their inheritance; my intellect is darkened through the things of this world and has not the strength to lift its gaze towards You with moaning; my heart has grown cold through a multitude of evils and cannot become warm through tears of love. O Christ, treasure of all goodly things, grant me perfect repentance and an aching heart that comes out in love to seek You. Without You I am a stranger to everything; grant me, O Good One, Your Grace. May the Father who begot You, from his bosom where You were concealed from eternity, renew in me the features of Your likeness.

Though I have forsaken You, do not forsake me; though I have abandoned You and gone away from You, come out to seek me and restore me to Your fold; add me to the dear lambs of Your flock, and feed me with them in the pasture of Your Holy Mysteries, whose source is a pure heart wherein is seen the light of your revelations; that is the repose of the toilers who labour to that end through sufferings and torment of every kind. Our Saviour, may we all be counted worthy of it through Your gracious loving-kindness.

[John of Dalyatha, Discourse 4]