The Nativity Discourse of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus

The Nativity Discourse of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus

Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus, who lived from about 213 AD until about 270 AD, was the Bishop of Neo-Caesarea.



We behold now a great and wondrous mystery. Shepherds with cries of joy come forth as messengers to the sons of mankind, not on their hilly pastures with their flocks conversing and not in the field with their sheep frolicking, but rather in the city of David Bethlehem spiritual songs exclaiming. In the highest sing Angels, proclaiming hymns Archangelic; the heavenly Cherubim and Seraphim sing out praises to the glory of God: "Holy, Holy, Holy..." Together all do celebrate this joyous feast, beholding God upon the earth, and mankind of earth amidst the heavens. By Divine providence the far distant are uplifted to the highest, and the highest, through the love of God for mankind, have bent down to the far distant, wherefore the Most High, through His humility, "is exalted through humility." On this day of great festivity Bethlehem hath become like unto heaven, taking place amidst the glittering stars are Angels singing glory, and taking the place of the visible sun -- is the indefinable and immeasurable Sun of Truth, having made all things that do exist. But who would dare investigate so great a mystery? "Wherein God doth wish it, therein the order of nature is overturned", and laws cannot impede. And so, of that which was impossible for mankind to undertake, God did aspire and did descend, making for the salvation of mankind, since in the will of God this is life for all mankind.

Like a good host, the Lord sets His table and awaits His guests

 

People have become bad, and so they say: "What does the Lord do for us?"

The Lord gives life to every body; the Lord gives a face to every creature. The Lord is as tenderhearted as a child, and selfishness and gloominess are unknown to Him.

The Lord gives to everyone whatever one asks of Him.(1) The Lord fills His eternity with giving, and yet you say: "What does the Lord give to us?" You would not even have been able to pose this question, if the Lord had not given you the power to do so.

When the stardust begins to sparkle above my head, I call upon You for help


 

In the evening the stardust begins to sparkle above my head, and I sense the abyss over which my life is dangling. And with a trembling soul I stretch out my hands to You and cry out: O Lord, the terrifying world has enveloped me from every direction, as the sandy desert envelops a small tiny oasis.

I shall not be able to hold out, if You do not brace me with Your strength. The sand will cover over my green pasture, it will clog the spring in the pasture, and the sand dunes will rise above the palm trees. And beneath the sands a heart that has loved you will be reduced to dust, and the dust will stick to the hoofs of camels. And the sand will stop the mouth that has known only a single song,. a hymn to You the Almighty. And out of the millions of years of life one day of life will be erased, as though it had never existed. And the weighty wheels of the universe will clatter on, no longer even caring that it has turned a day of life into a grain of sand.

But You are stronger than the world, O Lord my God, and You will lend Your servant a cherubic sword of flame, with which I shall repel the onslaught of the world on my life.

I shall not be saved, even if I am as equally strong as the world, much less so if I am less strong than the world. One who is equal to the world does not overcome the world, nor does the world fear him; instead the world of trivialities teaches one less strong than itself to prepare a grave for himself. Yet I shall be saved if I am more powerful than the world, and conquer the world.

My self-delusion portrays the world to me as an awesome power. When self-delusion dies within me and truth begins to dawn, I see and I know that a single drop of Your living fire is more powerful than a universe of ashes. Not even the entire universe has the strength to nourish a single blade of grass, if it does not receive that strength from You.

He who was born of Truth and sent by Truth easily conquers the world.(1) The world flees before Him as a shadow flees before the sun.

Fear of the world is the nourishment, day and night, of those who have separated themselves from Truth. Made by the world, they have become the world's puppets, with which the world plays, as a child plays with his toys. The children of Truth are begotten of Truth and do not fear those made dead.
Help me, my God, to conquer the world within myself; and I shall easily conquer the world outside me.

I shall not become arrogant by conquering the world, for the victory is Yours and not mine.

I shall let You increase, while I shall decrease, and like a child I shall cling to Your garment.

I shall let Your Word take up His abode in my body, and I shall expel from myself all the powerless words, taught to me by the world. Your Word is innocence, and wisdom, and power. He will annihilate what is made in me, and will help me be born.

The body, which the Word of God inhabits, is no longer a body made by the world, but a body conceived and commenced by the Holy Spirit. Enslaved by the world, my soul has woven me a slave's body as well. Therefore both my soul and my body tremble in terror of the world.
Illumine my soul, my Luminous God, and she will take courage and free herself of the world. She will become a sun-like soul, who will know how to weave a son-like body, to be a temple of the Son of God.(2)

When the stardust begins to sparkle above my head, I call upon You for help, my Most Holy God, and I do not fear all the worlds, Just as a son does not fear the servants in his father's house.

_________________________________________________________ 1. John 16:33. 2. Cor. 16-17, 2 Cor. 6:16, and John 2:21.

O Lord, how the whole of nature marvels at innocence!


At noon the children gather at the lake, to bathe in the sun and the water.

O Lord, how the whole of nature marvels at innocence! Strained and pained laborers in the presence of sinners -- the lake and the sun are transfigured in the presence of children. What a magnificent temple of the Lord the lake becomes, when children are in it, and what an inspired high priest the sun becomes, when its rays cross the rays of children's souls.

My seemly thoughts fly straight to You


At dawn when I awake, my seemly thoughts fly straight to You; the first stirrings of my soul reach for Your smile; the first whisper in my ear -- is Your name, the first surprise I encounter -- is You, beside me.

Like a young boy after a nightmare, who embraces his mother and rejoices because the dream did not separate him from his mother, so also do I, when waking, embrace You and rejoice because my journey in sleep has not distanced me from Your hand.

Bless my enemies, O Lord

 

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.1

Enemies have driven me into Your embrace more than friends have. Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul. Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

The Father looks from Heaven and sees me covered with wounds

 

The Father looks from Heaven and sees me covered with wounds from the injustice of men, and says: "Do not take revenge."1

On whom shall I take revenge, O Lord? On a portion of the flock on its way to slaughter?

Does a physician take revenge on patients, for cursing him from their death bed?

On whom shall I take revenge? On the snow, for melting, or on the grass, for withering? Does a gravedigger take revenge on those descending into the grave?

On whom shall I take revenge? On simpletons, for thinking that they can do evil to someone else in the world besides themselves?  Does a teacher take revenge on illiterate children for not knowing how to read?

Eternity bears me witness, that all those who are quick to avenge are slow to read and comprehend the mysteries of vengeance.

Time bears me witness, that all those who have taken revenge, have accumulated poison in themselves, and with poison they have blotted themselves out of the book of the living.

In what way can you avengers boast before your adversaries, except by being able to repeat their evil? Are you not thereby saying: "We are no better than you?"

God bears me witness: both you and your adversaries are equally reckless and equally incapable of good.

I have seen a cherry tree stripped of its bark and set fire to by children, yet it gave its ripe fruit to those same children.

And I have seen cows, which men tormented with heavy burdens, patiently give milk to those same men.

And tears welled up in my eyes: why is nature more compassionate to men than man is to his fellow man?

Nature bears me witness, avengers: a man is more power­ful than those who do him evil only when he is powerless to repeat their evil deeds.

There is no end to vengeance, and the heirs continue the work of their fathers and then depart, leaving it unfinished.

Evil races along the wide road, and from each new duel it gains strength and territory, and it multiplies its retinue.

A wise man gets off the road, and leaves evil to race [with itself].

A piece of bread silences a barking dog more swiftly than a pile of stones does.

He who taught men: an eye for an eye -- also taught them how they would all be left blind.

On whom shall I take revenge, my heavenly Father? On a portion of the flock on its way to slaughter?

Ah, how wretched are all evildoers and avengers! Truly, they resemble a flock on its way to be slaughtered and, unaware of where they are heading, they butt horns with each other and perpetrate a slaughter before the slaughter.

I do not seek vengeance, my Father; I do not seek vengeance, but seek rather that You grant me a sea of tears, so that I can bewail the wretchedness of those who are on their way to slaughter, unaware of where they are heading.

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1.  Matt. 5:38-42 and Rom. 12:19.

Guide my tongue, O Blessed Wisdom


Guide my tongue, O Blessed Wisdom, so that it may not deviate from truth for the rest of my life. Remind me of Your presence, so that I may be afraid to utter falsehood. Encourage me with Your presence, so that I may freely speak the truth.

An oath bears witness to falsehood in the world. In the kingdom of truth oaths are unknown.1

As out of a deep pit many wicked vapors escape, so out of self-deception all sins come forth, each with its own color and scent.

Deliver my soul from self-delusion


 

Deliver my soul from self-delusion, my God, so that my body may also be delivered from bodily sin.

Deliver my soul from foolish arrogance and burning anger, and my body will neither behave foolishly nor burn.

The soul designed the body to be a portrait of herself, to be the organ of her speech. The body is mute and inert, either for good or for evil, if the soul will not speak.

The body knows nothing of adultery, if the soul does not tell it. Adultery is carried out in the heart; the body only repeats in its clumsy way what has been woven with fine threads in the mysterious chambers of the heart.1

My neighbors, look upon a woman the way a woman looks upon herself and self-delusion will fall from your eyes like scales.2 look upon every being from within that being, and you will look, not with desire, but with compassion. You, O God, have sanctified marriage, and You have also sanctified celibacy.3

Those, who have the wisdom and the strength to use all the life bestowed on them by You for serving You, You have blessed.

And those, who are unable to keep within themselves all the life given to them, You have blessed, so that they can share it and transfer it to new beings, through a wife.

Truly it is self-delusion for a man to think that a woman attracts him. Indeed, it is the unused life in a man -- which drives a man toward a woman, for life does not wish to remain unused. You are life, O my God, and life is light. You are light, O my God, and You do not wish to be hidden in darkness and kept from shining.

Blessed is the man, who knows You within himself, and gives free rein to You to shine in his soul and in his body.

It is not important, whether you shine in one body or in shared flesh -- You merely wish to shine and illuminate the world and to fill it with Your life and Your strength.

Blessed is the woman from whose eyes self-delusion falls and who knows a man the way a man knows himself, the woman who rejects desire and fills herself with compassion. She too keeps life within herself, with fear and dignity, as though she were keeping heaven within herself.

Blessed is everyone who comes to know in due time that adultery defiles and kills life.

One does not fool around with God. It is safer to fool around with fire than with God.

Nor is life, which comes from God, a narcotic for instant stupefactions, after which self-delusion manifests itself again and again; while shame and humiliati6n fall like heavy stones on the heart, emptied of one demented desire.

Deliver my soul from self-delusion, my God, so that my body may also be delivered from bodily sin.

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1. Matt. 5:27-30.

2. Acts 9:18.

3. Matt. 19:3-12, John 2:1-11, and 1 Cor. 7.

You have filled Yourself with peace




You have filled Yourself with peace, O Glory of the realms on high, and the anger of all lands cannot confound Your peace.

Among mortals peace is scarce, therefore anger has become arrogant.

In the bosom of arrogance anger makes its nest, and in the bosom of anger lies murder.1

All sins lead to murder, but none stands so close to murder as anger.

The one-eyed laws of the world do not punish anger, because they do not see that anger kills. But Your clairvoyant law, O Glory of the realms on high, calls anger murder.

I strove, in sunlight and moonlight, to penetrate the mystery of Your law. And once my striving began to wear away all my worldly aspirations, I began to perceive how the anger of my neighbors was killing me.

The children of anger are slaves, while the children of peace are sons.

Therefore Your Wisdom vociferates and reiterates to people, telling them to be sons!

For a son looks into the face of his father, and directs his own face toward the face of his father. And when he sees peace in the father's face, how can he disfigure his own face with anger, without diverting his gaze away from his father?

Anger brings infirmity into both the one who is angry and the one against whom the anger is vented. And infirmity is the predecessor of death.

A wonderworker does not work miracles among the children of anger, for the children of anger bring infirmity into him.

My neighbors: why do you feel stronger among those who love you, and weaker among those whom your presence angers? Is it not because the former lengthen your life with love, and the latter shorten your life with anger?

Therefore I enjoy being constantly with You, O Glory of the realms on high. For only in Your presence am I neither murdering, nor being murdered by them.

Just as drop after drop of water erodes even the hardest stone, so does anger erode the life of two people.

Like a murderer waiting in ambush with a knife, so does anger lurk in a haughty heart.

Truly, arrogance knows that it is guilty; therefore it places anger at the gates, to act as its sentry.

Arrogance knows that it is sinful; therefore it has found itself an advocate in another sin.

Fill my heart with serenity, O Glory of the realms on high, with the serenity of the angels before Your throne. For serenity has no abode or resting place for anger.

Grant me the serenity of a son, and I shall be ashamed to become angry at slaves or to kill slaves. Armor me with Your peace, which the anger of the children of anger will not be able to confound.

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1. Matt. 5:21-26.

Help me to be born anew, O consubstantial Trinity


At noon the children gather at the lake, to bathe in the sun and the water.

O Lord, how the whole of nature marvels at innocence! Strained and pained laborers in the presence of sinners -- the lake and the sun are transfigured in the presence of children. What a magnificent temple of the Lord the lake becomes, when children are in it, and what an inspired high priest the sun becomes, when its rays cross the rays of children's souls.

"Let the children come to me," whispers the whole of nature, "and you will understand that I myself am also a child. To the soulless I seem to be soulless, to saints I am an altar. Whoever seeks the beast in me, will be sent a beast; whoever seeks God in me, will be shown God. Sinners call me a slaughterhouse, the righteous call me a sacrificial altar. Only to innocence do I manifest myself as innocence, and only to children of God do I reveal myself as a child of God."

"Let the children come to Me," exclaims the Son of the Virgin, and only children come to Him.1 Those who prevent children from coming to the Son of God, will be liable to the fires of hell. For neither do they themselves come to Him nor do they allow others to come to Him.2

"Why children, O Lord, why do You seek children?" those who are made and not born ask the One who was begotten and not made. Such people are made and not born, like statues of stone, and they are moved by the winds of the world. But the One who is begotten and not made moves with life within, and the winds of the world flee from Him.

"Because I Myself am also a child, for this reason I seek children. Impostors see an impostor in Me, atheists see an atheist, and those in authority see in Me one who usurps authority. The Pharisees ask 'Who is this man?' and they cannot resolve the question, while the wise of this world pursue Me into their own worldly wisdom.

"Only children recognize Me, for I too am a child. As a child I am not My own, and as a child I do not seek glory for Myself. As a child I do not think anything on My own, I do not speak anything on My own, and I do not do anything on My own. Instead, like a child, I think what My Father taught

Me, and I speak what I hear, and I do what I see.3

"Children cease to be children, but I never cease being a child. Children cease to be children because of their wicked guides, who prevent them from continuing to sojourn with Me and teach them the time-worn wisdom of the world. But I do not cease to be a child, because I nourish Myself with the eternally youthful wisdom of heaven.

"Blessed are those who in old age rid themselves of their wicked guides and the wisdom of those guides, which makes one old, sick, and dead. Whoever turns to Me, even if he has been made old by the world, I shall make him a child and as an eternal child he will reign in My kingdom, to which the elders of the world have no access.

"I tell you that My kingdom is a kingdom of children.

"Truly, those who are made will not see the light of the Kingdom of God, but only those who are begotten. Whatever is Mine, whatever is as I am, this will be with Me.

"The statues of stone, which the winds of the world move, will be smashed, and their dust will be the sport of winds. But the children, who move with life within, will enter into eternal life."

O Resplendent Lord, Eternal Child of the Holy Triad, help me with Your innocence, the greatest strength in all realms, to be born of the Holy Spirit.

May I not be like a stone statue, made by this world, to be smashed and scattered into the wind.

May I rather be like a born youth, inseparable from You in eternity, O Prince of Innocence and of all innocents.

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1. Mark 10:13-16.

2. Matt. 23:13.

3. John 5:19-23,30,43.

Unprofitable servants!


"Unprofitable servants!"Thus speaks the Lord of life and Vanquisher of death:

"Can you increase your stature by a single cubit?2 Can you make a hair turn white or black?3 And when you cannot do what is least, why do you worry about the rest?

"The master of a house, who hires servants, gives them a field and tools and food. Even so does the Heavenly Father provide for His servants!

"Unprofitable servants, God gives you the strength to serve; and it is not even you who serve, but God who serves through you.

"If you could perform a single good service without God, you would be gods, and God would not exist.

"If you could take a single life, and resurrect a single dead man, without God's presence, you would be gods and God would not exist.

"When you perform all your service, it is God who has performed the service, and it is you who are the unprofitable servants."

I said to my feet: "You do not walk by your own power;" and to my hands: "You do not create by your own power;" and to my nerves: "You do not sense by your own power;" and I said to my mind: "You do not reason by your own power."

Nor can all my caution lead me through a single night alive. Nor can all my toil add a single installment to my lifetime.

And to bread I said: "It is not you who nourish me, but the One who invisibly enters into me with you." And to light I said: "It is not you who illuminate me, but the One from whom even you have borrowed luminosity."

Sons of men, you are all unprofitable servants. Elements of nature, you are all unprofitable servants. Suns, stars and moons, you are all unprofitable servants.

All your service is in vain, unless someone stronger than you provides it.

All your promises are illusions, unless someone wealthier fulfills them.

All your cares are like thorns, that you sow in your way. They do not bring down rain, but make a drought more severe. They do not increase life, but amass weakness.

Unprofitable servants, convert your cares into prayers, just as ice is converted into flowing water, and you will reap an unexpected harvest. Pray to the Lord of the harvest, and then you will understand how vain and ruinous your cares were.

What does it profit for a shepherd's pipe to worry about how it will play? All its worries will not produce a single sound until a player places his mouth on it.

Look upon yourself as nothing; lay claim to nothing -- and everything will be given to you.4

And after you will have done so, you will sense that you are ceasing to be unprofitable servants and that you are becoming sons and heirs of a father. And the Father will clothe you in the gold and purple of His glory.

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1. Matt. 25:30 and Luke 17:10.
2. Matt. 6:27.
3. Matt. 5:36.
4. Matt. 6:33.

The earth is a stepmother


The earth is a stepmother, O Heavenly Mother, and behaves toward us as a stepmother. She looks upon us as step­children, as strangers from afar, as adopted children - until she makes us her slaves.

We labor for her day and night, and for this she pays us wages with her miserable possessions: sin, sickness, and death.

Whoever only lives by her bread, will never know satiety.1 Rather, the more he eats, the hungrier he feels. And the more he dances to her tune, the more he will be overcome by grief.2

He is like a beast that falls into a deep pit and then digs ever lower and deeper in the earth in order to save himself. And even as he moves further away from salvation, he thinks that salvation is near. Truly, such are the sons of men, who toil hard over the earth, and assess the nearness of salvation on the basis of their toiling.

To what avail is your swimming in ashes, ever deeper and deeper? O sons of men, your salvation has been left behind you.

You say: "We need dig just a little bit deeper, and we shall come out into the light." But I say: "Just a little deeper into the earth, and you will be further from the light."

You say: "We need only complete certain tasks tomorrow and the day after, and the kingdom of goods will be con­structed." But I tell you: "All that you have constructed of earth, will crash down upon your head, and your tomorrow and day-after-tomorrow will again be only a painful lifting of your head beneath the ruins."3

Your fathers used to mutter the same words of consolation to themselves, and they died off amid the ruins and amid the unfinished repairs.

You need ladders, and nothing other than ladders; so that you can climb out of the hole into which you have fallen, so that you can flee from the cold embrace of your stepmother.

A virgin is that ladder.4 She lights a heavenly candle in the midst of your darkness and shows the way. She is clairvoyant, and she knows that which you have forgotten. Alienated from earth, she has been befriended by heaven. Disrobed of dark­ness, she is clothed in light. Through her Heaven peers into us. Through her we can see heaven.

She is cautious with regard to your counsels; rectitude is in her mouth; heavenly wisdom is in her womb; a reverend flame is in her heart.

Out of her come the healer and the cure. From her thighs come the guide and the way.

She is not a stepmother but a mother, and does not promise her son more than she can give. Her giving is her promise, while the giving of the stepmother consists of promises.

The stepmother is earth, O Heavenly Mother, and she behaves toward us as a stepmother. With a black veil she conceals You from our eyes, so that we may not see You and think that You are dead. Therefore generation after generation snuggles up to the stepmother, and kisses her harsh hand.

Flash Your face, O Mother, and the stepmother will flee, and the slaves will become sons.5

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1. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4).
2. Luke 7:32.
3. Luke 20:17-18.
4. Gen. 28:12.
5. Gal. 3:26-29 and 4:21-31.

Who first sensed the presence of the Virgin Son in the world?


I entreat you, Seraphim, who first sensed the presence of the Virgin Son in the world?

"The unclean spirits were the first to sense His presence, and were filled with fear. Wherever there is fear, there is also servility; wherever there is servility, there is also impudence. Truly, the worst culprits always have the greatest fear of the judge, and when the judge approaches, they are the first to recognize him.

"The righteous man does not recognize the judge, because he is not thinking about him, nor is he waiting for him. Sin does not induce him to prick up his ears and look to see from which side of the courtroom the judge will appear."

I entreat you, Cherubim, how did the unclean spirits perceive the presence of the Virgin Son in the world?

"In the same way as darkness senses light. What is more sensitive to light than darkness? Still sleeping before dawn, neither mineral, nor vegetable nor animal has any inkling of day, before darkness has already sensed the coming of its devourer, and with trepidation prepares to flee.

"Thus the demons also sensed the coming of the Virgin Son before all the people of earth who were cleaner than they themselves."

I entreat you, Thrones, how did the Virgin Son subjugate the unclean spirits?

"Only to the earth do the unclean spirits simulate some sort of power. Heaven looks upon them as being already subjugated by their own wickedness. When the master of the house shows up on his own property, burglars flee to the fence and search for an opening to escape."

I entreat you, Dominions and Powers, what are the four victories which the Virgin Son won in the world?

"The four victories are the four victories over the four evils, which flow out of each other as a muddy river from a muddy spring.

"The first victory is over the unclean spirits, from which came sin.

"The second victory is over sin, from which came infirmity.

"The third victory is over infirmities, which end with death.

"The fourth victory is over death."

I entreat you, Authorities and Principalities, what is the greatest victory of the Virgin Son?

"None is greater and none is lesser. There is only a victory that is both first and final. The second victory could not have occurred without the first, nor was the third possible without the first and second, nor the fourth without the first, second, and third.

"All four represent one four-fold victory, which illuminates the east, west, north and south of the whole existent world."

I beseech you, Authorities and Principalities, what is the greatest victory of the Son, the celebrated victory of the Virgin Son?

"He who is able to comprehend this celebrated victory, senses it and embraces it.

"Whoever comprehends it, bows down before the Virgin Son day and night.

"Whoever senses it, weeps - for joy, because he has perceived it, and for shame, because he perceived it so late.

"Whoever embraces it, loses the wedded son within himself, and becomes even himsef a virgin son."

To you I fall down and pray, O ranks of saints and martyrs, who have understood, and sensed, and embraced the victory of the Virgin Son. Pray, together with all the angelic hosts, to the Virgin Son for us, who still stand on the field of battle.

Where do unclean spirits come from


Where do unclean spirits come from, Most Pure Mother of God?

"From an unclean woman; from her unclean marriage with her own son. The unclean mind defiles the soul, his mother, and out of the unclean soul come forth the unclean spirits, whose main fortress is the heart.

"From their main fortress, the unclean spirits thereupon make assaults on their parents with unclean passion, and they become multiplied both in the soul and in the mind."

How numerous are the unclean spirits, Most Pure Mother of God?

"There are more, far more unclean spirits than clean ones. For they are as weak as a shadow compared to clean spirits. And they gang up in legions against one clean spirit, against a single virginal spirit.

"They multiply most copiously in what is corrupted and they assault most violently what is virgin - attacking everything that represents chastity in body or in soul, in the male or the female, in the mind or in the heart.

"However many sinful desires as there are in the heart - however many poisonous passions, feelings of fear and feel­ings of hatred toward everything heavenly as there are - there are just as many unclean spirits in the heart.

'To whatever extent self-delusion about the world is present in the mind - whether in ideas and concepts, or in im­aginations and words - unclean spirits are to the same extent present in the mind.

"Moreover all the unclean spirits from the heart sow their seed in the mind. And all the unclean spirits from the mind sow their seed in the heart. And all together, from both the one fortress and the other, they sow their unclean seed in the field of the will. And in the soul, their greatest fortress, there are as many of them as there are shadows in the world.

"And they multiply from each other haphazardly and illicitly, since they are the accursed enemies of any law and order. They view their might and potential victory from the standpoint of quantity rather than quality. They are truly as fragmented as sand, and continue to fragmentize themselves more and more.

"They are multiplied not out of mutual love but out of hellish selfishness. Nor do they sense any bliss whatsoever from their existence. All their time is taken up with fighting over prerogatives and preeminence. Alas for the man, who becomes their battlefield."

What results from unclean spirits operating in man, Most Pure Mother of God?

"Sickness is produced within the inner man and, eventually, in the outer man as well. Sin is the seed of sickness. The seed of sin grows as wildly as weeds.

"All infirmities are the heir of sin. Truly, not only blindness and deafness and dumbness, but all the others as well. And however strange it may seem to say - death is also a disease, an inheritor of the same cause, a corruption from the same worm."

O Most Pure and Light-bearing Mother of God, set us free from unclean spirits; cleanse us from every sin; heal us from every infirmity, through the mercy of Your Son and the power of Your Holy Spirit.

From the midst of corruption we fall down on our knees and cry out to You: "With Your radiance, O Mother of God, burn up all the corruption that is suffocating us.

With fasting I gladden my hope in You, my Lord!




With fasting I gladden my hope in You, my Lord, Who are to come again.

Fasting hastens my preparation for Your coming, the sole expectation of my days and nights.

Fasting makes my body thinner, so that what remains can more easily shine with the spirit.

While waiting for You, I wish neither to nourish myself with blood nor to take life--so that the animals may sense the joy of my expectation.

10 SUGGESTIONS FOR LENT

ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS’ 10 SUGGESTIONS FOR LENT

Ten Suggestions for Lent

(edited excerpt)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archbishop_Demetrios_of_America

Meditate on the History of Salvation

Think of the Lenten period as a time of meditating on the history of salvation. Think about the creation of the universe and of Adam and Eve as the beginning of human life on earth. Think about the fall of Adam and the entrance of sin in humanity. We see in the hymnology of the liturgical book of Lent, the Triodion, constant references to the tragedy of the fall of the first human beings. For example, in the Oikos of the Matins on yesterday’s CheesefareSunday, we read: “Adam sat and cried in those days across from the delights of Paradise; beat his hands upon his face, and said: Merciful One, have mercy on me who have fallen.”

A sinless man will walk among the sick and will not become sick...


I hear a voice from the depths saying: a sinless man will walk among the sick and will not become sick. For sinfulness is health and strength, the fullness of health and strength.

One who is sinless does not die. And if a sinless man dies on account of the sins of others, he will return to life. Like all diseases - death too is a disease that sin causes. And just as no disease has power over one who is sinless, so neither does death have any power over him. Truly, sons of earth, even death is nothing more than a disease.

What sun will melt the snow from the summits of your souls, O sons of men, and cleanse your earthliness?


The snows melt on the mountain when the sun shines, and the streams flow to cleanse the earth. What sun will melt the snow from the summits of your souls, O sons of men, and cleanse your earthliness?

Sin has made your souls as stiff as icy frost. Like last year's snow, upon which new snow falls, so does your sin of last year and the years before lie dead-still, providing a bed for the sin of today and tomorrow.

You would have no sins, if you had no sinfulness; if you did not have sinful souls, you would have no sins. Snow would not be able to remain on the mountain, if the earth were warm; if the earth were warm and if the cold fog that hides the sun were to dissipate, the snow would be unable to remain either on the mountain or in the valley.

The cold ground and the cold fog are piling up snow upon snow and ice upon ice between you and your sun.

Who will absolve your sins, and who will thaw your icy hatefulness?

In vain do you yourselves forgive your own sins. By forgiving your own sins you make ice out of the snow, providing an even smoother bed for new snow.

The light of the triradiate Godhead alone can absolve your sins, just as the sun alone can melt the snow on the mountain, thaw the snow and ice, and bring forth flowers out of the black earth.

"Your sins are forgiven you, arise!"1 Do you know, O man, the One who has the authority to restore your health with these sweet words? I assure you that you will not find or meet Him on earth, even if you were to scour the entire world.

Even if you were to scour all the planets that orbit around the sun, you would not find Him. For He is not from earth, and the earth does not sustain Him.2

He is the Celestial Man and the Savior of your soul. He is far away from anyone who forgives himself his own sins, but He is near, very near to anyone who despises his sins and cries out to heaven to blot them out.

His mind is purer than sunlight, and His word is more searing than the sun. He melts the snow off the soul of man and induces flowers to grow. All those thick layers of snow and ice can be melted by Him, and all the earth can be cleansed by Him. Call upon Him from the depths of your soul, and He will come.

When He exclaims: "Your sins are forgiven" - your soul, now benumbed by the burden of sins, will become nimble and mobile, and the paralysis of the body will vanish.

The sins of the soul are the wounds of the soul. How can the body be healthy with a wounded soul?

A madman says: "Look at my neighbor, an inveterate sinner, and see how his body blossoms with good health! Surely the sin of the soul does not harm the body," says one who is out of his mind.

Just wait, madman, just wait a little longer, until the dung of the soul emerges from the body. Then you will shut your mouth and flee from sins as though you were fleeing fetid putridity. Wait until a worm devours the inside of an apple, and you will be distressed to see its outside all faded and pale.

Then you too will stand with the lepers along the road and cry out like a man near death: "O Son of God, have mercy on me!"3

And then you will hear -- and understand those salvation-­bearing words: "Your sins are forgiven; go in peace!"

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1. Matt. 9:2-8.
2. John 8:23.
3. Luke 17:12-19.

But behold, the One who resurrects is coming


How many, many times, my soul, you have sobbed for someone who knew the way, had seen the truth, and possessed life.

You thirstily used to entrust yourself to many expert runners, who would lead you along every way to a certain point, and would then take you back.

You used to listen to many who told tales about the truth, my soul. But when you would pose certain questions to them, questions which burned deep within you, their words would get stuck in their throats. And saddened, you would go to other story-tellers, and would hear the same tale over again - a tale which, like all the others, only went so far, like a stretched rubber band.

And those who used to try to explain life to you, would only succeed in opening your eyes to death.

But behold, the One who resurrects is coming, and all-terrifying death flees in terror before Him. Here is a story for you about Life, one which death does not shorten, but lengthens.1

Here is a story for you about Truth, one which provides answers to all your questions before you even pose them.

Here is the Guide for you, whose Way never ends; and once He begins to guide you, He does not go back.

Here is the Good Shepherd,2 who values the life of one sheep above all the Sabbaths of the Jews.3 And here is the Healer, to whom the life of a penitent sinner is more valuable than Solomon's temple.4

Do not worry, my soul, about any of the sheep in your sheepfold - not one of them will perish. Neither need you fret over the wolves around the sheep - not one of them will escape. For your Shepherd has a sharp two-edged sword.

All the sheep are within you, and all the wolves are within you - the progeny of your marriage with heaven and earth - and behold, my Favorite is coming in with a sharp two-edged sword.

Do not wail, if He hurts you with His sword. He is the Good Physician and He cuts out of you only that which is not you. Do not wail for the strangers who brought you disease, and shame, and grievous wounds. Do not be afraid of the inextinguishable fire, that He brings into you. For a long time the junk accumulated within you has been in need of a bonfire. The bonfire will last a long time, because the old junk within you has rotted.

The pain that you feel is not your own, my soul, but is the pain of your other marriage and its - illegitimate children.

Do not lament, if He separates you from a father and a mother, and brothers and sisters.5 He will not separate you from anything that is of heaven. He would not even consider cutting a single heavenly bond. Indeed, He is only separating and purifying you from earth, and is cutting your bonds with earth.

If you were a chaste virgin, my soul, and saw with the unconfounded eye of celestial innocence, even you yourself would easily break these bonds, for you would see that in truth they do not even exist.

Hurry, my soul, and unite yourself with the Son of the Living God, for He is not waiting for me. Once you unite yourself with Him, behold, neither His sword nor His fire will be frightening to you, but will be as sweet as honey.

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1. Luke 7:11-17, Mark 5:21-24, 34-43, and John 11:1-44.

2. John 10:1-30.

3. Luke 15:3-7.

4. John 9.

5. Gen. 12:1, Matt. 10:37 and 19:29.

Do you ask me for the way, exhausted runners?


Do you ask me for the way, exhausted runners?

To what are you racing, sons of men? If you knew what you were jogging toward, you would also know the way.

Your destinations are innumerable, therefore your ways are also innumerable.

You collide with one another and curse at each other, because your pathways cut across each other.

Even if there were as many of you as there are blades of grass on the earth, you would not be colliding with one another, if you had one destination and one direction. And your mouths would quit cursing.

Those who search for life and truth, have one destination and one direction. Their destination shows them the way, just as the sun does with light. Truly whoever hides from the sun will lose both his destination and his way, and in vain will he toss himself hither and thither in the dark.

Do not set out in the ways of your thoughts, for they lead you one thought to the next, and they know of no destination or way outside themselves.

Do not set out in the ways of your imaginations, for they allure you to level river beds until they suddenly plunge into an abyss beneath the earth.

Do not trust your soul as long as she tells you that the flesh in which she is clothed is your destination and way. Has clothing ever guided anyone?

The way to the kingdom of blessedness is not found, is not shown, and is not intersected. It is born in the soul when Life and Truth are born in her. If Life and Truth have been born in your soul, rejoice and be glad, for the Way has been born in it as well.1

Just as Life cannot be separated from Truth, so the Way cannot be separated from Life and Truth.

Until all three manifest themselves, none has been manifested.

Do not place your hope in tomorrow's day to cast bright light on your erring way. For tomorrow's day is only a new aberration of your way, and a new enigma.

Do not place your hope in days, for days are the garden of your imagination. Instead set all your hope in that Day which is never somber at dawn.

O Lord, my Lord, my triradiate Godhead, who will suffice except You?

The ways of men are a trap, in which runners run all day and at dusk find themselves in the same place. The entrapped ways of men bewilder me and I ask myself: who will suffice for a haven except my Lord?

"Whoever recognizes Me as the destination of his wayfaring," says the Lord, "will have Me as the Way to My mansions."2

O Lord, my Lord, my triradiate Godhead, who will dare to enter into Your light?

"Whoever draws near to gaze upon My light within himself, will dare to enter into My light, and will not be scorched."

O soul, my soul, my trinocturnal darkness, when will you remove your mask and be transfigured into triradiate daylight?

Save yourself while the divine torch is burning above you. For when it goes away from you it will vanish, even as the dancing moonlight has vanished in the depths of the lake.

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1. "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).

2. John 14:2.

Are You the One who is to come?



"Are You the One who is to come?" the sons of earth ask the One born of your Virgin, O my soul.

But the One born of the Virgin glistens with matinal light amid the sons of earth, who are as dark as extinguished days.

The flaming Seraphim shine in His eyes; the sapient Cherubim sit upon His lips; the Lordly Thrones3 bolster His stance. Seeing Him alone, a Leader without an earthly army, every sane man is convinced that this could be a leader of an awesome and enormous army of invisible powers.

And behold, surrounded by the angelic hosts your Leader, O soul, opens His mouth and speaks:

"In truth, I am the One for whom you have been waiting; do not hope for another. If you have been searching for the way, I am the Way.1

"I am your Tomorrow from today until the end of time. Everything good, that you have been expecting from the days of tomorrow, is within Me. Today your tomorrow is fulfilled in Me. And no day, from now until the last day, will bring you what I am bringing you. Lo, I am the day that has no beginning and no end.2

"I am the treasury of every future that exists and I am the way to that treasury. The future in its entirety cannot give you so much as a.kernel of good, unless it borrows it from Me.


"All the prophets have pointed out the way that leads to Me. All the ways of the prophets come to an end and lose themselves in Me. From this time forth I am the only Way, and outside Me are only regions without roads or ways. Like many streams flowing into a single river and then losing their way, so have all the prophets flowed into Me, and from this time forth I direct the course of Life. Whoever continues to follow the ways of the prophets further, will be following paths that no longer exist and will injure themselves.

"The prophets came to show the way; I have come to be the Way.

"Whoever wishes to follow Me, must follow Me not with his feet alone, but with all his soul, with all his heart, and with all his mind.3

"My way is long, and whoever trusts solely in his feet will drop from exhaustion.

"When children want to keep up with giants, they must forego walking on their own feet and sit on the shoulders of giants.


"Whoever wants to keep up with Me, must renounce his feet, his soul, his heart, and his mind. Whoever renounces all this, I shall take onto My feet, into My soul, into My heart, and into My mind. And he will not be heavy for Me, nor shall I be tiring for him. However, anyone who fails to renounce everything, cannot overtake or detain Me along the way.4

"I am the Way, and he who follows My Way, does not journey alone but with Me. The prophets used to point out the way hither or thither or over in that direction, because they were not themselves the way. I cannot point out the way: hither, thither, or over in that direction; nor can I leave any of my wayfarers to journey without Me. Whoever wishes to follow My Way, I Myself shall carry.5


"I tell you one thing more: I am what is desired tomorrow and the Way to tomorrow. Without Me you cannot find the way to what you desire tomorrow, nor can you expect it."

O God-bearing Son, have mercy on us and begin leading us Yourself.

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1. John 14:6.

2. Rev. 1:8.

3. Matt. 22:37.

4. Matt. 16:24.

5. Matt. 11:29-30.

Cleanse thyself

The door of repentance is yet open - enter and cleanse thyself from thy corruption.
+ St. Ephraim the Syrian

Mat 5: 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Acts 2:38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

My soul runs after truth

 

My soul runs after truth, O Son of Truth, and there is no end to her running and no term adequate to describe her exhaustion.

It would be better to be at peace, my soul, and to attract truth to yourself by means of your peace. What would you think of someone who said at midnight: "I cannot bear to be without light, I must run to the sun to bring back some rays?"


Why begin a race of a thousand years, when light is faster than you and can fall into your lap in a matter of seconds?

Open yourself to light, O soul, and light will come into you.



The walls that stand between you and truth and loom up before you like colossal mountains, which you have been trying to cross by running to the point of exhaustion, are your own creation and are more fragile than the white foam on the lake. If only you could open your eyes wide enough not to see them. Truly, the existence of these walls depends upon your seeing them. If you did not wish to see them, they would not exist.

I once watched a chicken on top of a blackboard running around inside a circle that had been drawn on it with white chalk. I watched him for a long time as he ran to and fro and hesitated to jump over the white line, which he probably perceived to be a living creature or a high wall.

This is like my soul, I said in sorrow, when she thinks that she is cut off from her freedom either by some mighty giants or by frightful towering walls. In actual fact, between her prison and her freedom there exists only an imaginary line, thinner than a hair.



All the walls of your prison, my soul, consist of your fear of the world, of your desire for the world and of your thoughts about the world. All these walls you yourself have built according to the instructions of your senses from the material that they have given you, a material that is truly more fragile than foam.

In the beginning you did not have senses, my soul, and you were not separated from truth. After you became blind, you sent out your senses to chase after truth. And those greyhounds have been chasing and fetching the closest and easiest game, and bringing back wolves to their blind master, who has been eating them as though they were venison.

Do not run, my soul, for it is characteristic of the senses to run. Servants and slaves run, but a master remains peacefully still.

Behold, in that corner of profound peace and virginal purity left within you, your pre-eternal eye has opened. This eye does not see the walls of your prison, therefore neither does it run up mountains that do not exist. This eye is the Son of Truth, one of the Trinity that rules over all the heavenly kingdom, from which you barred yourself by wanting to be the "Fourth." Truly I tell you, a "fourth" does not exist anywhere throughout what exists. His name is - Nonexistent.

By your playing and clowning around with me in the dark­ness, my soul, you have made me into a "fourth." All your people out of the world of "fourths" will cast stones at the Son of Truth. Flee, wretched soul, flee from the world of "fourths." Totally unshackle yourself from it, totally reject it, totally despise it and--bow down before the Truth of the Trinity, which is given to you through the Son of Truth.

O Lord of Truth and Life, help my soul to prostrate herself before You and sob: "You are my Being, my Life and my Truth, O beloved Son of the Holy Trinity. You are my everything, and I surrender myself, naked and poor, to You. I no longer have anything to reject or to scorn or to despise, because nothing even exists except You. Have mercy on me, and receive me into Your arms' embrace."

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"As the Prophets saw, as the Apostles taught, as the Church has received, as the Teachers express in dogma, as the inhabited world understands together with them, as grace illumines, as the truth makes clear, as error has been banished, as wisdom makes bold to declare, as Christ has assured, so we think, so we speak, so we preach, honoring Christ our true God, and his Saints, in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in churches, in icons, worshiping and revering the One as God and Lord, and honoring them because of their common Lord as those who are close to him and serve him, and making to them relative veneration. This is the faith of the Apostles; this is the faith of the Fathers; this is the faith of the Orthodox; this faith makes fast the inhabited world."

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