Tag Archives: Cross

St. Seraphim of Sarov: . . . the devil strives to lead a man into despair. . . .

Icon of St. Seraphim of SarovJust as the Lord is solicitous about our salvation, so too the murder of men, the devil, strives to lead a man into despair.

A lofty and sound soul does not despair over misfortunes, of whatever sort they may be. Our life is as it were a house of temptations and trials; but we will not renounce the Lord for as long as He allows the tempter to remain with us and for as long as we must wait to be revived through patience and secure passionless!

Judas the betrayer was fainthearted and unskilled in battle, and so the enemy, seeing his despair, attacked him and forced him to hang himself, but Peter, a firm rock, when he fell into great sin, like one skilled in battle did not despair nor lose heart, but shed bitter tears from a burning heart, and the enemy, seeing these tears, his eyes scorched as by fire, fled far form him wailing in pain.

And so brothers, St. Antioch teaches, when despair attacks us let us not yield to it, but being strengthened and protected by the light of faith, with great courage let us say to the evil spirit: “What are you to us, estranged from God, a fugitive from heaven and evil servant? You dare do nothing to us. Christ, the Son of God, has authority both over us and over everything. It is against Him that we have sinned, and before Him that we will be justified. And you, destroyer, leave us. Strengthen by His venerable Cross, we trample under foot your serpent’s head” (St. Antioch, Discourse 27).Book Little Russian Philokalia St Seraphim of Sarov

+ St. Seraphim of Sarov, “The Spiritual Instructions to Laymen and Monks”, printed in Little Russian Philokalia: St. Seraphim of Sarov

St. Isaac the Syrian: Behold, for years and generations, the way of God has been leveled by the cross and by death. . . .

Icon of St. Isaac the Syrian“Behold, for years and generations, the way of God has been leveled by the cross and by death. How is this with thee, that thou seest the afflictions of the way as if they were out of the way? Doest not thou wish to follow the steps of the saints? Or doest thou wish to go a way which is especially for thee, without suffering? the way unto God is a daily cross. No one can ascend unto heaven with comfort, we know where the way of comfort leads.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, Mystic Treatises, Homily LIX

St. John Maximovitch: God’s grace always assists those who struggle, but this does not mean that a struggler is always . . .

Icon of St. John the WonderworkerGod’s grace always assists those who struggle, but this does not mean that a struggler is always in the position of a victor. Sometimes in the arena the wild animals did not touch the righteous ones, but by no means were they all preserved untouched.

What is important is not victory or the position of a victor, but rather the labor of striving towards God and devotion to Him.

Though a man may be found in a weak state, that does not at all mean that he has been abandoned by God. On the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ was in trouble, as the world sees things. But when the sinful world considered Him to be completely destroyed, in fact He was victorious over death and hades. The Lord did not promise us positions as victors as a reward for righteousness, but told us, “In the world you will have tribulation — but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

The power of God is effective when a person asks for the help from God, acknowledging his own weakness and sinfulness. This is why humility and the striving towards God are the fundamental virtues of a Christian.

+ St. John Maximovitch

St. Silouan the Athonite: . . . the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.

Icon of St. Silouan the Athonite“Filled with love, the holy Apostles went into the world, preaching salvation to mankind and fearing nothing, for the Spirit of God was their strength. When St. Andrew was threatened with death upon the cross if he did not stay his preaching he answered: ‘If I feared the cross I should not be preaching the Cross.” In this manner all the other Apostles, and after them the martyrs and holy men who wrestled against evil, went forward with joy to meet pain and suffering. For the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.”

+ St. Silouan the Athonite, Wisdom from Mount Athos: The Writings of Staretz Silouan, 1866-1938

St. Mary of Egypt: Prayer of Repentance

Icon of St. Mary of Egypt“O Lady, Mother of God, who gave birth in the flesh to God the Word, I know, O how well I know, that it is no honour or praise to thee when one so impure and depraved as I look up to thy icon, O ever-virgin, who didst keep thy body and soul in purity. Rightly do I inspire hatred and disgust before thy virginal purity. But I have heard that God Who was born of thee became man on purpose to call sinners to repentance. Then help me, for I have no other help. Order the entrance of the church to be opened to me. Allow me to see the venerable Tree on which He Who was born of thee suffered in the flesh and on which He shed His holy Blood for the redemption of sinners an for me, unworthy as I am. Be my faithful witness before thy son that I will never again defile my body by the impurity of fornication, but as soon as I have seen the Tree of the Cross I will renounce the world and its temptations and will go wherever thou wilt lead me.”

+ Prayer of St. Mary of Egypt while standing in front of the icon of the Theotokos at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem

Read the Life of St. Mary of Egypt

St. Ephraim the Syrian: Joseph as a Type of Christ

Patriarch JosephFor just as the Lord was sent to us
from the Father’s bosom [John 1:18] to save us all,

So the youth Joseph from Jacob’s bosom [Gen 37:13-14]
was sent to enquire about his own brothers.

And just as Joseph’s harsh brothers,
as soon as they saw him approaching,

began to devise evil against him,
though he was bringing them peace

from their father, so the Jews also,
ever hard of heart, as soon as they saw

the Saviour, said, ‘This is the heir [Matt 21:38],
let us kill him, and all will be ours’.

And just as Joseph’s brothers said,
‘Let us do away with him, and let us be set free

of his dreams’, [Gen 37:20] in the same way too
the Jews said, ‘Come, let us kill
him and lay hold on his inheritance’.[Mat 21:18]

Joseph’s brothers, while eating,
sold him, slaying him in intent.

In the same way too the abominable Jews,
while eating the Passover, slew the Saviour.

The descent of Joseph into Egypt signifies
the descent to earth of our Saviour.

And as Joseph within the marriage chamber
trampled down all the strength of sin,

putting on the bright prizes of victory,
against the Egyptian woman, his mistress,

so too the Lord, the Saviour of our souls,
by his own right hand, descending into Hell,

destroyed there all the power
of the dread and near invincible tyrant.

When Joseph had conquered sin
he was put in prison until the hour of his crowning;

so too the Lord, that he might take away
every sin of the world, was placed in a grave.

Joseph in prison spent two whole years,
passing his time in great freedom [cf Gen 39:21-23]

while the Lord, as powerful, remained
in the tomb for three days, not undergoing corruption.

Joseph, on Pharao’s order, was brought out
graciously from prison, as a true type,

when he easily interpreted the meaning of the dreams,
indicating the abundance of grain that was going to be;

while our Lord [Jesus Christ] was raised from the dead
by his own power, despoiling Hell,

offering to the Father our liberation,
proclaiming resurrection and everlasting life.

Joseph took his seat in Pharao’s chariot,
having received authority over the whole of Egypt;

while our Saviour, king before the ages,
ascending into heaven on a cloud of light,

took his seat with glory at the Father’s right hand,
above the Cherubim, as Only-begotten Son.

When ruling over Egypt, Joseph
having received authority against his enemies

his brothers were brought willingly
before the tribunal of the one who had died through them;

they were brought to prostrate with fear and trembling
before the one who had been sold by them to death;

and with fear they prostrated before Joseph,
whom they had not wanted to be king over them.

But Joseph, recognising his brothers,
revealed them as murderers by a single word;

but they, when they realised, stood dumbfounded
in great shame, not daring to utter,

not having anything at all to say in their defence,
knowing exactly their own sin

at the moment when they sold him;
while he, who seemed to have been destroyed by them in Hades,

was suddenly found to be ruling over them.

So too on that fearful day,
when the Lord comes on the clouds of the air,

he takes his seat on the throne of his kingdom,
and all his enemies are brought bound
by fearsome Angels before the judgement seat,

all those who did not want him to rule over them.

For the lawless Jews thought then,
that if he were crucified, he would die as a human;

the wretches not being persuaded that God had come,
for salvation, to save our souls.

Just as Joseph said quite openly
to his brothers, making them fear and tremble,

‘I am Joseph, whom you sold [into slavery],
but now I rule over you, though you did not want it’. [Cf. Gen 45:4]

So too the Lord shows the Cross
in an image formed of light to those who crucified him,

and they recognize the Cross itself
and the Son of God who was crucified by them.

Know how accurately Joseph became
a true type of his own Master.

+ St. Ephraim the Syrian, Excerpt from “Sermon on Joseph the Most Virtuous”, translation by Fr. Ephraim Lash
Read the full sermon at http://anastasis.org.uk/Joseph.pdf

St. John Chrysosotom: [W]hen you are about to pass over the threshold of the gateway . . .

Icon of St. John Chrysostom. . . [W]hen you are about to pass over the threshold of the gateway, say this word first: I leave your ranks, Satan, and your pomp, and your service, and I join the ranks of Christ. And never go forth without this word. This shall be a staff to you, this your armor, this an impregnable fortress, and accompany this word with the sign of the cross on your forehead. For thus not only a man who meets you, but even the devil himself, will be unable to hurt you at all, when he sees you everywhere appearing with these weapons; and discipline yourself by these means henceforth, in order that when you receive the seal you may be a well-equipped soldier, and planting your trophy against the devil, may receive the crown of righteousness, which may it be the lot of us all to obtain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom be glory to the Father and to the Holy Spirit for ever and ever— Amen.

+ St. John Chrysostom, Instructions to Catechumens

St. John Chrysostom: ‘And He came to the place of a skull.’ Some say that Adam died there, and there lieth. . . .

Icon of St. John Chrysostom‘And He came to the place of a skull.’ Some say that Adam died there, and there lieth; and that Jesus in this place where death had reigned, there also set up the trophy. For He went forth bearing the Cross as a trophy over the tyranny of death: and as conquerors do, so He bare upon His shoulders the symbol of victory.

+ St. John Chrysostom, Homily 85, Homilies on the Gospel of John

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St. Justin Martyr: . . . we may ask the same petition from God, who is able to turn away every shameless evil angel from taking our souls.

Icon of St. Justin Martyr“And what follows of the Psalm [21/22],—‘But Thou, Lord, do not remove Thine assistance from me; give heed to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword, and my only-begotten from the hand of the dog; save me from the lion’s mouth, and my humility from the horns of the unicorns,’ is indicative of the suffering by which He should die, i.e., by crucifixion. For the ‘horns of the unicorns,’ I have already explained to you, are the figure of the Cross only. And the prayer that His soul should be saved from the sword, and lion’s mouth, and hand of the dog, was a prayer that no one should take possession of His soul: so that, when we arrive at the end of life, we may ask the same petition from God, who is able to turn away every shameless evil angel from taking our souls.”

— St. Justin Martyr, The Second Apology, Chapter CV

 

St. Athanasius: And once more, if the devil, the enemy of our race, having fallen from heaven, wanders about . . .

Crucifixion 4And once more, if the devil, the enemy of our race, having fallen from heaven, wanders about our lower atmosphere, and there bearing rule over his fellow-spirits, as his peers in disobedience, not only works illusions by their means in them that are deceived, but tries to hinder them that are going up (and about this the Apostle says: According to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience); while the Lord came to cast down the devil, and clear the air and prepare the way for us up into heaven, as said the Apostle: Through the veil, that is to say, His flesh [Heb. 10:20]— and this must needs be by death— well, by what other kind of death could this have come to pass, than by one which took place in the air, I mean the cross? For only he that is perfected on the cross dies in the air. Whence it was quite fitting that the Lord suffered this death. For thus being lifted up He cleared the air of the malignity both of the devil and of demons of all kinds, as He says: I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven; and made a new opening of the way up into heaven as He says once more: Lift up your gates, O you princes, and be lifted up, you everlasting doors.

+ St. Athanasius the Great, On the Incarnation