The Law of Love is the Source of Spiritual Life

“…God’s love has been poured into our hearts through
the Holy Spirit who has been given to us
(Rom. 5:5)

St. Thomas Aquinas, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Thomas AquinasSt. Thomas Aquinas: “The principle of every good is in this: the law of love is the source of spiritual life. It is a natural and manifest fact that the loving heart is inhabited by what it loves. Whoever loves God possesses Him within. ‘He who dwells in charity* dwells in God and God in him (1 John 4:16).’ The nature of love transforms whoever loves into the beloved being. If we love God we will be completely divine. ‘Whoever is united with the Lord becomes one spirit with Him(1 Cor. 6:17).

“Without charity, the soul no longer acts: ‘Whoever does not love abides in death(1 John 3:14). If a person possesses all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but lacks charity, that person has no life. For it matters not whether one has the grace of tongues, or the gift of faith, or any other gift such as prophecy; these do not bring life without charity. Even if a dead body should be adorned with gold and precious jewels, it nevertheless remains dead. Charity leads to the observance of the divine commandments. …We see a lover do great and difficult things because of the One loved, and that is why the Lord says, ‘If anyone loves Me he will keep My word(John 14:23). Whoever keeps this command and the law of divine love fulfills the whole law. Charity provides protection against adversity. Misfortune cannot harm one who has charity; rather it becomes useful to that person. Misfortune and difficulties seem pleasant to the lover. Charity truly leads to happiness, since eternal blessedness is promised only to those who have charity. For all other things are insufficient without charity. You must note that it is only the different degrees of charity, and not those of any other virtues, which constitute the different degrees of blessedness. Many of the saints were more austere than the apostles, but the apostles excel all the other saints in blessedness because of their higher degree of charity.”  (Text reposted from Secret Harbour, by Jeffrey Allen)

  The word “charity” is from the latin root ‘caritas’. It embraces the fullness of love; from the, “supreme love to God,” that bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit and the beloved personal qualities of 1 Cor 13.”

Icon of the Apostles Creed

Iconography is a sacred art form that is said to be “written”, not painted; icons depicting Scriptural events reveal what is “written” in the Word of God. While browsing the Web Gallery of Art, I came across an iconographic panel by an Italian artist, Giovanni da Rimini, c. 1305. As I looked at the events of the Lord’s life from left to right, row by row, I realized I was “reading” the core of the Apostles Creed…

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit…

Life of Christ, Apostles Creed

…from where He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.


The Burning Bush on the Mountain of God

Moses and the Burning Bush
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here am I.” (Ex. 3:1-4, RSVCE)
“Moses, in the Egyptian desert, was looking after the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro. Wending his way across the desert he came to Horeb, ‘the mountain of God’. And it was there that the angel of the Lord, or rather the Lord God Himself in the shape of an angel, appeared to him in the midst of flames of fire. The flames were blazing out of a bush. Yet the bush was not consumed or destroyed. Moses was overcome with amazement. He decided to turn aside, to deviate from his intended course, so as to gain a closer view of ‘this great site’ and to see ‘why the bush is not burnt’.

“Moses turned aside from his original path. He felt that the marvel of the Burning Bush warranted making a stop; he was moved with desire to contemplate it and ponder deeply on it. He accepted without question this sudden, extraordinary, divine event. And it was because he did not hesitate to change his direction towards the Burning Bush that God was able to call to him. ‘And when the Lord saw that [Moses] turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the Bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.’

“All this applies just as much to us today as it did to Moses. If during the course of our lives we hurry along without stopping, without even a glance toward the Burning Bush (which nevertheless continues its blazing along the whole of our way…), we shall miss the opportunity God desires. If on the contrary, we do not hesitate to leave aside for a time the flocks of Jethro – our daily cares – the Lord will call to us from the midst of the bush. He will call to each one of us by a name that is our own.” (The Burning Bush by Archimandrite Lev Gillet. © 1976 by The Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius)

“This is My Beloved Son…” Feast of the Transfiguration

The Apostle St. Peter“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts (2 Pet. 1:16-19 RSVCE).”

Leo the Great: “For when the Father said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in Whom, I am well pleased; listen to Him,’ was it not clearly meant, ‘This is My Son’, Who is eternally from Me and with Me? ‘This is My Son’, not adopted, but true-born, not created from another source, but begotten of Me, nor made like Me from another nature, but born equal to Me of My nature (John 1:14). ‘This is My Son’, through Whom all things were made, and without Whom was nothing made (John 1:3). All things that I do He does in like manner, and whatever I perform, He performs with Me inseparably (John 5:19) and without difference: for the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son (John 14:11) and Our Unity is never divided. (John 10:30).

“Listen to Him, therefore, because He is the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), He is My Power and Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:24). ‘Listen to Him’, Who redeems the world by His blood (Eph. 1:7), Who binds the devil and carries off his captives (Matt. 12:28-29), Who destroys the bond of sin [and sets you free] (John 8:34-36). ‘Listen to Him’, Who opens the way to heaven, and by the… cross prepares for you the steps of ascent to the Kingdom.

“These things, dearly beloved, were said not only for those who heard them with their own ears, but in these three Apostles the whole Church has learned all that their eyes saw and their ears heard. Let all men’s faith be established according to the preaching of the most holy Gospel, and let no one be ashamed of Christ’s cross through which the world was redeemed.” (Leo the Great, 440-461 A.D., excerpts from Homily 51, On the Transfiguration – portions of a previous post)

Prayer and Wisdom against Temptation & Spiritual Danger

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.(Matt. 26:41, Mark 14:38)

Spirit is willing, flesh is weak

St. John Chrysostom: “Inasmuch as Christ Himself came to instruct us in all virtue, He both tells us what ought to be done, and does it… He commanded men to pray for their enemies (Matt. 5:44, Luke 6:28) and teaches this by means of His acts; for when He had ascended the cross He said, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).’ Therefore, as He commanded men to pray so does He Himself pray, instructing you to do so by His own persistent utterances of prayer.

“Since then He commanded them to pray ‘lead us not into temptation [but deliver us from evil] (Matt. 6:13),’ He instructs them in this very precept by putting it into practice Himself, saying ‘Father if it be possible, let this cup pass away from Me (Matt. 26:39).’ Thus teaching all the saints not to plunge into dangers, not to fling themselves into danger… not to rush forwards themselves, or to be the first to advance against terrors. Why pray this way? Both to teach us lowliness of mind, and also to deliver us from the charge of vainglory. On this account it is also said in this passage that… after He had prayed He said to His disciples ‘Could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation.’ Jesus not only prays but also admonishes, ‘For the spirit indeed is willing,’ He said, ‘but the flesh is weak (Matt. 26:41, Mark 14:38).’

“Now this He said by way of emptying their soul of vanity and delivering them from pride, teaching them self-restraint, training them to practice moderation. Therefore, the prayer which He wished to teach them, He Himself also offered… instructing us to pray, and even to seek deliverance from distress; but, if this be not permitted, then to acquiesce in what seems good to God. Therefore He said ‘Nevertheless, not as I will but as Thou wilt (Matt. 26:39);’ not because He had one will and the Father another; but again, that He might instruct men…

“By means of this prayer, Christ taught both these truths, that we should not plunge into dangers, but rather pray that we may not fall into them; but if they come upon us we should bear them bravely, and postpone our own will to the will of God. Knowing these things then let us pray that we may never enter into temptation; but if we do enter it let us beseech God to give us patience and courage, and let us honor His will in preference to every will of our own. For then we shall pass through this present life with safety, and shall obtain the blessings to come: which may we all receive by the favor and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom be to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, glory, might, honor, now and forever world without end. Amen.”  (St. John Chrysostom (347-407), Excerpts from Against Marcionists and Manichaeans)