Sunday, April 24, 2011

Additional Quotes of the Fathers on the Resurrection of Christ

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Christ descending to Hades to raise the dead (http://iconreader.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/resurrection2.jpg)
   
Additional Quotes of the Fathers on the Resurrection of Christ
"That light which far outshines the day and sun, first pledge of resurrection, and renovation of bodies long since dissolved, the divine token of promise, the path which leads to everlasting life — in a word, the day of the Passion — is arrived, best beloved doctors; and ye, my friends who are assembled here, ye blessed multitudes who worship Him who is the author of all worship and praise Him continually with heart and voice, according to the precepts of His holy word.

But thou, Nature, parent of all things: what blessing like to this hast thou ever accomplished for mankind? Nay rather, what is in any sense thy workmanship, since He who formed the universe is Himself the author of thy being? For it is He who has arrayed thee in thy beauty; and the beauty of Nature is life according to Nature’s laws.
But principles quite opposed to Nature have mightily prevailed, in that men have agreed in withholding His rightful worship from the Lord of all, believing that the order of the universe depended, not on His providence, but on the blind uncertainty of chance. And this they did, notwithstanding the clearest announcement of the truth by His inspired prophets, whose words should have claimed belief, but were in every way resisted by that impious wickedness which hates the light of truth and loves the obscure mazes of darkness.

Nor was this error unaccompanied by violence and cruelty, especially in that the will of princes encouraged the blind impetuosity of the multitude, or rather itself led the way in the career of reckless folly.

Such principles as these, confirmed by the practice of many generations, became the source of terrible evils in those early times: but no sooner had the radiance of the Saviour’s presence appeared, than justice took the place of wrong, a calm succeeded the confusion of the storm, and the predictions of the prophets were all fulfilled.

For after He had enlightened the world by the glorious discretion and purity of His character, and had ascended to the mansions of His Father’s house, He founded His Church on earth, as a holy temple of virtue, an immortal, imperishable temple, wherein the worship due to the Supreme Father and to Himself should be piously performed."
St. Constantine the Great
"Brethren, how fine a thing it is to move from festival to festival, from prayer to prayer, from holy day to holy day. The time is now at hand when we enter on a new beginning: the proclamation of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed. We feed as on the food of life, we constantly refresh our souls with his precious blood, as from a fountain. Yet we are always thirsting, burning to be satisfied. But he himself is present for those who thirst and in his goodness invites them to the feast day. Our Savior repeats his words:

'If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.'

He quenched the thirst not only of those who came to him then. Whenever anyone seeks him he is freely admitted to the presence of the Saviour. The grace of the feast is not restricted to one occasion. Its rays of glory never set. It is always at hand to enlighten the mind of those who desire it.

Its power is always there for those whose minds have been enlightened and who meditate day and night on the holy Scriptures, like the one who is called blessed in the holy psalm:

'Blessed is the man who has not followed the counsel of the wicked, or stood where sinners stand, or sat in the seat of the scornful, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.'

Moreover, my friends, the God who first established this feast for us allows us to celebrate it each year. He who gave up his Son to death for our salvation, from the same motive gives us this feast, which is commemorated every year. This feast guides us through the trials that meet us in this world.

God now gives us the joy of salvation that shines out from this feast, as he brings us together to form one assembly, uniting us all in spirit in every place, allowing us to pray together and to offer common thanksgiving, as is our duty on the feast. Such is the wonder of his love: he gathers to this feast those who are far apart, and brings together in unity of faith those who may be physically separated from each other.
St. Athanasios the Great

"The Lord, having put on human nature, and having suffered for him who suffered, having been bound for him who was bound, and having been buried for him who was buried, is risen from the dead, and loudly proclaims this message:
'Who will contend against me? Let him stand before me. It is I who delivered the condemned. It is I who gave life to the dead. It is I who raised up the buried. Who will argue with me? It is I, says Christ, who destroyed death. It is I who triumphed over the enemy, and having trod down Hades, and bound the Strong Man, and have snatched mankind up to the heights of heaven. It is I, says Christ. So then, come here all you families of men, weighed down by your sins and recieve pardon for your misdeeds. For I am your pardon. I am the Passover which brings salvation. I am the Lamb slain for you. I am your lustral bath. I am your life. I am your resurrection. I am your light, I am your salvation, I am your King. It is I who brings you up to the heights of heaven. It is I who will give you the resurrection there. I will show you the Eternal Father. I will raise you up with my own right hand.'"
St. Melito Bishop of Sardis
"Most men believe in the resurrection of Christ, but very few have a clear vision of it. …That most sacred formula which is daily on our lips does not say,
'Having believed in Christ’s resurrection,'
but,
'Having beheld Christ’s resurrection, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, who alone is without sin.'
How then does the Holy Spirit urge us to say,
'Having beheld Christ’s resurrection',
which we have not seen as though we had seen it, when Christ has risen once for all a thousand years ago, and even then without anybody’s seeing it? Surely Holy Scripture does not wish us to lie? Far from it! Rather, it urges us to speak the truth, that the resurrection of Christ takes place in each of us who believes, and that not once, but every hour, so to speak, when Christ the Master arises in us, resplendent in array and flashing with the lightnings of incorruption and Deity.

For the light-bringing coming of the Spirit shows forth to us, as in early morning, the Master’s resurrection, or, rather, it grants us to see the Risen One Himself. Therefore we say,
'The Lord is God, and He has given us light' (Ps. 118:27)
and we allude to His second Coming and add these words,
'Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord' (Ps. 118:26).
Those to whom Christ has given light as He has risen, to them He has appeared spiritually, He has been shown to their spiritual eyes. When this happens to us through the Spirit He raises us up from the dead and gives us life. He grants us to see Him, who is immortal and indestructible. More than that, He grants clearly to know Him who raises us up (Eph. 2:6) and glorifies us (Rom. 8:17) with Himself, as all the divine Scripture testifies.
These, then, are the divine mysteries of Christians. This is the hidden power of our faith, which unbelievers, or those who believe with difficulty, or rather believe in part, do not see nor are able at all to see.
St. Symeon the New Theologian
   
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!


Truly the Lord is risen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

St. Epiphanios of Salamis on the Lord's Descent into Hades

Christ's descent into Hades to raise the dead of all ages (http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/anastasi-kyriou-02.jpg)
   
St. Epiphanios of Salamis on the Lord's Descent into Hades
Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness.

The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.

The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and He has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began.

God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep.

Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, He has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, He who is both God and the son of Eve.

The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won Him the victory.

At the sight of Him Adam, the first man He had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: "My Lord be with you all." Christ answered him: "And with your spirit."

He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: "'Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.'

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by My own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake.

I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of My hands, you who were created in My image.

Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in Me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on My face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you.

See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in My image.

On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back.

See My hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the Cross and a sword pierced My side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced Me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise.

I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven.

I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them venerate you as a god.

The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager.

The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open.

The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.
(http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/04/st-epiphanios-of-salamis-lords-descent.html)
   
Christ's descent into Hades to raise the dead (http://www.belygorod.ru/img2/Ikona/Used/244nisiy_SoshestvieVoAdGRM.jpg)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Behold the Bridegroom...



Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
See! The Bridegroom sets forth in the dead of night. And blessed is that servant whom he shall find on watch; unworthy the one he shall come upon lazing. See to it, soul, that sleep does not overtake you, lest you be given up to death and be shut out of the kingdom. Bestir yourself, then, and sing out: "Holy, holy, holy are You, our God; through the [Theotokos], save us."
  
  
Icon depicting the above hymn: "Behold the Bridegroom is coming..." (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kontakion on the Raising of Lazarus, by St. Romanos the Melodist

   
Kontakion on the Raising of Lazarus
by St. Romanos the Melodist
O Christ, Thou who knowest all things,
Thou hast asked to learn where the tomb of Lazarus is,
And arriving there, Thou hast raised him up on the fourth day,
O All-powerful One,
Taking pity, Merciful One,
On the tears of Mary and Martha.
The Master, checking the lamentations of Mary and Martha,
Immediately stilled them when He raised up their brother.
It was possible, then, to see marvel of marvels,
How the lifeless suddenly was seen to be alive.
For when His voice descended,
It caused the bolts of the gate of Hades
To shake; and it broke down the bars of the door of Death;
And on the fourth day, He raised up the dead; as the Merciful One,
He took pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.
Let us all, with love, hurry to Bethany to see Christ there,
Weeping for his friend.
For wishing all things to be ordained by law,
He controls all things in His dual nature.
He suffers as son of David; as Son of God,
He redeems the whole world from all the evil of the serpent,
And on the fourth day, He raised up Lazarus, taking pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.
Together sustained by faith,
The two announced to Christ and God the death
Of their brother, saying,
"Hasten, come, Thou who art always present in all places,
For Lazarus whom Thou dost love is ill: if Thou come near,
Death will vanish, and Thy friend will be saved from corruption,
And the Jews will see that Thou, the Merciful One,
Hast taken pity on
The tears of May and Martha."
The Creator of all spoke on behalf of the disciples, saying:
"Friends and companions, our friend has fallen asleep."
He was secretly teaching them in advance,
Because He knows and care for all things,
"Let us go, then, let us advance and see the unusual tomb,
And let us cause the mourning of Mary and Martha to cease
As I raise up Lazarus from the tomb,
And as the Merciful One take pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha."
When the heard these words, the apostles
As with one voice cried out to the Lord,
"Sleep exists for man for his safety
And not at all for his destruction."
And so He spoke to them openly: "He is dead.
As mortal I am away from him; but as God, I know all things.
If we truly arrive at the opportune time,
I shall resurrect the dead, and cause to cease
The tears of Mary and Martha."
They all, then, arrived together,
When Mary and her sister came to meet them, crying bitterly,
"Lord, where wert Thou? For he whom Thou lovest has departed,
And lo, he is not here."
As they cried out these words, He, himself, wept.
But he asked, "Where is the tomb of my friend? Now
I am going to release him from the chains of Hades,
Since as the only lover of mankind, I take pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha."
When they arrived at the tomb,
He who is in the bosom of His Father, called out:
"Thou hast sent me into the world
That I might bring life to the dead.
I have come, then, to raise up Lazarus
And to reveal to the Jews that I am going to arise from my tomb
On the third day, I who after the fourth day resurrect my friend And now
take pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha."
In order that He might bring an end to the mourning of Martha,
The Savior of all spoke to her and addressed
These divine words to her:
"I exist as the Light of the world
And the resurrection of all from the dead;
It was for this end that I appeared in order to resurrect Adam
And the descendants of Adam
And on the fourth day to resurrect Lazarus
Taking pity, as a Merciful One, on
The tears of Mary and Martha."
When the command was given with a nod of His head,
Hades was made to totter,
And also the power of Death and the arrogance of the Devil.
With the sound of His voice,
He raised up from the depths of the earth
The one who was four days dead.
When they saw this, Abraham and all the righteous cried out:
"Now, take courage, since the resurrection of all has come.
He has delivered from the bonds of death
The one whom He loves, as He, the Merciful One, takes pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha."
Hades, now a prisoner, sees himself despoiled of this Lazarus,
Whom a short time ago he held enchained below;
For when the King of angels came against him,
The strength of demons was destroyed;
And the serpent who trails over the earth on his stomach,
Now, pierced in the mouth by the Wooden Spear, appears as dead.
But Adam rejoices when he sees Christ,
In His goodness, take pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.
Rising from the tomb, the friend reveals his eyes
And hands bound by a cloth;
They release him — those who have their hearts
Bound by the ill will of slander,
Those who, as they plug up their ears like the adder,
Prepare their hands for most wicked slaughter,
That they may pour out
The harmless and innocent blood of the One
Who raises up the dead, and checks
The tears of Mary and Martha.
Having heard the words of the children,
Which came from pure hearts and innocent lips,
They were all filled with fear
Saying to one another, "Who is this man?"
O madness and complete stupidity!
A short time ago they saw raised from the dead
A corpse who had become fetid,
And they do not know who resurrected him,
And who destroyed with His voice the power of Hades,
And in accord with His merciful nature checked
The tears of Mary and Martha!
O Thy unspeakable compassion, all merciful Jesus!
Who didst consent to come for me and to me,
How didst Thou calmly ride upon the ass
And advance into the city of God-slayers?
Foreseeing their terrible lack of faith, Thou didst command them
To release the bonds of Lazarus, that they might see
The One whom in a short time they wish to put to death
With no pity for
The tears of Mary and Martha.
O Savior, all came with palms on the occasion of Thy arrival,
Crying, "Hosanna!" to Thee,
Now all of us bring hymns to Thee out of piteous mouths,
As we wave the branches of our spirit and cry out:
"O Thou, truly among those on high, save the world
Which Thou hast created, Lord,
And blot out our sins, just as formerly Thou hast dried
The tears of Mary and Martha.
O Lover of mankind, the Holy Church holds a high festival,
Faithfully calling together her children;
It meets Thee with palms and spreads out garments of joy
So that, with Thy disciples and with Thy friend,
Thou mayest advance and legislate a deep peace for Thy servants,
And release them from oppression, as formerly Thou hast checked
The tears of Mary and Martha.
Incline Thy ear, O God of the universe, and hear our prayers,
And snatch us from the bonds of death,
For our enemies who always surround us, visibly and invisibly,
Threaten to have us put to death, and besides,
To deprive us of our faith.
Arise, and quickly let all be destroyed and let them know
That Thou art our God and dost pity us as Thou didst have pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.
Let us, who are dead because of our sins, and who dwell in the tomb
Because of our knowledge of evil,
Imitate the sisters of faithful Lazarus as we cry to Christ
With tears, in faith and in love:
"Save us, Thou who didst will to become man.
And resurrect us from the tomb of our sins, Thou, alone immortal,
Through the prayers of Thy friend, Lazarus,
Whom Thou didst raise up, O Lord, in checking
The tears of Mary and Martha."
Let us depart the mere material world, which is always in a state of flux,
And hasten to meet Christ the Savior in Bethany.
Let us then dine with Him
And with his friend Lazarus and the apostles
So that we may, by their prayers, be delivered from our past sins.
If we cleanse every stain from our hearts, we shall see perfectly
His divine resurrection, which He offered to us when He took away
The tears of Mary and Martha.

(http://www.monachos.net/content/patristics/patristictexts/206-romanos-lazarus)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!