Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wisdom from… [23 Jan.]

Cyril of Alexandria** (~444): The gift of the Holy Spirit

When the Creator of the universe conceived the magnificent plan of gathering up all things in Christ and restoring human nature to its original condition, he promised that along with all his other gifts he would once more give us the Holy Spirit. This was the only way for us to regain secure possession of God's blessings. By God's decree the time for this descent of the Spirit upon us was to concur with the coming of Christ. God gave his word that in those days—by which he meant the days of our Savior—he would pour out his Spirit upon the whole human race.

So it was that when the time for this great act of generosity arrived and brought God's only Son into our midst in human flesh, a man born of a woman as holy scripture says, God the Father began at once again to give the Spirit. The first to receive the Spirit was Christ, since he was the firstfruits of our renewed nature. John bore witness to this when he said: I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven, and it rested on him.
(On John's Gospel 5, 2: PG 73, 751-754.)

** Patriarch of Alexandria, Cyril was a brilliant theologian who combatted the Arian and Nestorian heresies. Cyril presided at the Council of Ephesus in 431 where Mary's title as Mother of God was solemnly recognized.

ST AUGUSTINE: Avoid Pride and Grasp Wisdom

After hearing that they should be humble some persons do not wish to learn anything. They think they will be proud if they have anything. It has been made clear to us where God wishes us to be in the depths and where he wishes us to be in the heights. He wishes us to be humble to avoid pride, and he wishes us to be on high to grasp wisdom.
-- Commentary on Psalm 130, 12

Prayer. While I move and bear this body I pray that I may be pure, generous, just, and prudent. May I be a perfect lover and knower of your Wisdom.
-- Soliloquies 1, 6


Receive Holy Communion with courage, peace and humility, in response to the Divine Spouse, Who, in order to unite Himself to us, humbled Himself and so wonderfully abased Himself as to become our very food--we who will soon become a meal for worm…. He who receives Communion according to the spirit of the Divine Spouse humbles himself and says to the Lord, "Masticate me, digest me, annihilate me, but convert me totally into You!"
(Letters 1529; O. XVIII, p. 400)

[The concept of transubstantiation is too often cluttered with metaphysical disputes, when in fact the import of that dogma is to describe not primarily what happens to bread and wine in the epiclesis (as if the Church were just an arena for philosophical conundra), but rather, what happens to us as we receive Christ! Transubstantiation is the dogmatic placeholder for the covenant of theosis into which we enter by the Eucharist. We remain who we are "accidentally" but "substantially" become who and what Christ is; we become sons in the Son. We see our own accidental faces in the mirror of the world, but in the mirror of the Eucharist, we see––and display––the substantial face (the living person) of Christ.]


SOME priggish little clerk will say, 'I have reason to congratulate myself that I am a civilized person, and not so bloodthirsty as the Mad Mullah.' Somebody ought to say to him, 'A really good man would be less bloodthirsty than the Mullah. But you are less bloodthirsty, not because you are more of a good man, but because you are a great deal less of a man. You are not bloodthirsty, not because you would spare your enemy, but because you would run away from him.'
('All Things Considered')

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