My beloved spiritual children in Christ our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
ON THE HOLY LIGHTS--Part I
by Saint Gregory Nazianzus "The Theologian" [Our father among the Saints Gregory the Theologian also known as Gregory of Nazianzus (though that name more appropriatly refers to his father) and Gregory the Younger, was a great Father and Teacher of the Church. He was a close friend of Saint Basil the Great. He was one of the great Cappadocean Fathers, and is one of only three Saints given the title "Theologian" in all of Orthodox hagiography and theology.]
1. Again My Jesus, and again a mystery; not deceitful nor disorderly, nor belonging to Greek error or drunkenness (for so I call their solemnities, and so I think will every man of sound sense), but a mystery lofty and divine, and allied to the Glory above.
For the Holy Day of the Lights (Theophany), to which we have come, and which we are celebrating today, has for its origin the Baptism of my Christ, the True Light That lightens every man that comes into the world, and effects m purification, and assists that light which we received from the beginning from Him from above, but which we darkened and confused by sin.
2. Therefore listen to the Voice of God, which sounds so exceeding clearly to me, who am both disciple and master of these mysteries, as would to God it may sound to you; I Am The Light Of The World. Therefore approach ye to Him and be enlightened, and let not your faces be ashamed, being signed with the True Light. It is a season of new birth, let us be born again. It is a time of reformation, let us receive again the First Adam. Let us not remain what we are, but let us become what we once were. The Light Shines in The Darkness (in this life and in the flesh, and is chased by the darkness, but is not overtaken by it--I mean the adverse power leaping up in its shamelessness against the visible Adam, but encountering God and being defeated,--in order that we, putting away the darkness, may draw near to the Light, and may then become perfect Light, the children of perfect Light. See the grace of this Day; see the power of this mystery. Are you not lifted up from the earth? Are you not clearly placed on high, being exalted by our voice and meditation? And you will be placed much higher when the Logos (Word) shall have prospered the cause of my words.)
3. Is there any such among the shadowy purifications of the Law, aiding as it did with temporary sprinklings, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, or do the gentiles celebrate any such thing in their mysteries, every ceremony and mystery of which to me is nonsense, and a dark invention of demons, and a figment of an unhappy mind, aided by time, and hidden by fable? For what they worship as true, they veil as mythical. But if these things are true, they ought not be called myths, but to be proved not to be shameful; and if they are false, they ought not to be objects of wonder, nor ought people so inconsiderately to hold the most contrary opinions about the same thing, as if they were playing in the market-place with boy or really ill-disposed men, not engaged in discussion with men of sense, and worshipers of the Word, though despisers of the artificial plausibility.
4. We are not concerned in these mysteries with birth of Zeus and thefts of the Cretan Tyrant (though the Greeks may be displeased at such a title for him), nor with the name of Curetes, and armed dances which were to hide the wailings of a weeping god, that he might escape from his father's hate. For indeed it would be a strange thing that he who was swallowed as a stone should be made to weep as child...
8. But since to us grace has been given to flee from superstitious errors and to be joined to the Truth and to serve the Living and True God, and to raise above creation, passing by all that is subject to time and to first motion; let us look at and reason upon God and things Divine in a manner corresponding to this Grace given us. But let us begin our discussion of them from the most fitting point. And the most fitting is, as Solomon laid down for us; The beginning of wisdom, he says, is to get wisdom.
And what his is he tells us, the beginning of wisdom is fear. For we must not begin with contemplation and leave off with fear (for an unbridled contemplation would perhaps push us over a precipice), but we must be grounded and purified and so to say made light by fear, and thus be raised to the height. For where fear is there is keeping of commandments, and where there is keeping of Commandments there is purifying of the flesh, that cloud which covers the flesh and suffers it not to see the Divine Ray. And where there is purifying there is illumination, and illumination is the satisfying desire to those who long for the greatest things, or the great thing, or that which surpasses all greatness.
9. Wherefore we must purify ourselves first, and then approach this converse with the Pure; unless we would have the same experience as Israel, who could not endure the glory of the face of Moses, and therefore asked for a veil.
"...But when he shall have looked upon Jesus, though he be little of stature like Zacchaeus of old, and climb up on the top of the sycamore tree by mortifying his members which are upon the earth, and having risen above the body of humiliation, then he shall receive the Logos/Word, and it shall be said to him, This day is salvation come to this house. Then let him lay hold on the salvation, and bring forth fruit more perfectly, scattering and pouring forth rightly that which as publican he wrongly gathered.
10. For the same Logos/Word is on the one hand terrible through its nature to those who are unworthy, and on the other through its loving kindness can be received by those who are thus prepared, who have driven out the unclean and worldly spirit from their souls, and have swept and adorned their own souls by self-examination, and have not left them idle or without employment, so as again to be occupied with greater armament by the seven spirits of wickedness…the same number as are reckoned of virtue (for that which is hardest to fight against calls for the sternest efforts)...but besides fleeing from evil, practice virtue, making Christ entirely, or at any rate in the greatest extent possible, to dwell within them, so that the owner of evil cannot meet with any empty place to fill it again with himself, and make the last state of that man worse than the first, by the greater energy of this assault, and the greater strength and impregnability of the fortress.
But when having guarded our soul with every care, and having appointed goings up in our heart, and broken up our fallow ground, and sown unto righteousness, as David and Solomon and Jeremiah bid us, let us enlighten ourselves with the Light of Knowledge, and then let us speak of the Wisdom of God that has been hid in a mystery, and enlighten others. Meanwhile let us purify ourselves, and receive the elementary initiation of the Logos/Word, that we may do ourselves the utmost good, making ourselves godlike, and receiving the Logos/Word at His coming, and not only so, but holding Him fast and shewing Him to others.
(To be continued: Part Two)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God