“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)

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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)

Scriptural Proof, Irenaeus of Lyons

Today in the liturgical Life of the Catholic Church, St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, France (AD 177-202) is remembered. A short word from this Bishop who is now one of the “great cloud of witnesses surrounding us (Heb. 12:1)“:

St. Irenaeus: “Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles exists in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth, and that no lie is in Him. As also David says, prophesying His birth from a virgin, and the resurrection from the dead, “Truth has sprung out of the earth (Ps. 85:11).” The apostles, likewise, being disciples of the truth, are above all falsehood; for a lie has no fellowship with the truth, just as darkness has none with light, but the presence of the one shuts out that of the other. Our Lord, therefore, being the truth, did not speak lies…” (Irenaeus, against heresies (182-188 A.D), Book 3, Ch. 5)

Jesustoapostles2“Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them,
Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.'”
Luke 24:45-48 RSVCE

+St. Irenaeus, pray for us+

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Note: There will be no Sacred Library posts during the month of July. God willing, posts will resume in August. God Bless!

The Love of God Contrasted with the Love of the World

Leo the GreatSt. Leo the Great: “There are two loves from which all wishes proceed, and they are as different in quality as they are different in their sources. For the reasonable soul, which cannot exist without love, is the lover either of God or the world. In the love of God there is no excess, but in the love of the world all is hurtful. Therefore we must cling inseparably to eternal treasures, but things temporal we must use like passers-by, so that as sojourners hastening to return to our own land, all the good things of this world which meet us may be as aids on the way, not snares to detain us….

“As the world attracts us with its appearance and abundance and variety, it is not easy to turn away from it unless in the beauty of things visible the Creator rather than the creature is loved; for, when He says, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt. 22:37),’ He wishes us in nothing to loosen ourselves from the bonds of His love. And when He links the love of our neighbor also to this command, He enjoins on us the imitation of His own goodness, that we should love what He loves and do what He does. For although ‘we are God’s fellow workers and God’s building (1 Cor. 3:9),’ and ‘neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:7),’ yet in all things He requires our ministry and service, and wishes us to be the stewards of His gifts, so that he who bears God’s image may do God’s will.

“For this reason, in the Lord’s prayer we say most devoutly, ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).’ For what else do we ask for in these words but that God may subdue those whom He has not yet subdued, and that as in heaven He makes the angels ministers of His will, so also on earth He may make men. And in seeking this we love God, and we also love our neighbor; and the love within us has but one Object, since we desire the bond-servant to serve and the Lord to have rule.” (Leo the Great, Sermon XC, ch. 3, Scripture: RSVCE)

Prayer, Humility and Kindness in the Midst of Affliction

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-28).

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Ignatius_of_AntiochIgnatius of Antioch: “Pray without ceasing in behalf of other men; for there is hope of repentance that they may attain to God. For “cannot he who falls rise again, and he who goes astray return (Jer. 8:4)?” Permit them to be instructed by you. Be the ministers of God, and the mouth of Christ. For thus says the Lord, “If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth (Jer. 15:19).” Be humble in response to their wrath; oppose their sacrilege with your earnest prayers; while they go astray, be steadfast in the faith (Col 1:23). Conquer their harsh temper by gentleness and their passion by meekness, for “blessed are the meek (Matt. 5:5).” Moses was meek above all men (Num. 12:3), and David was exceedingly meek (Psalm. 131).

“Paul exhorts as follows: “The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle towards all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those who oppose (2 Tim. 2:24, 25).” Do not seek to avenge yourselves on those who injure you (Rom. 12:19)…” Let us make them brethren by our kindness… let us imitate the Lord, Who “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten (1 Pet. 2:23).” Jesus prayed for His enemies, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).” If any one, the more he is injured, the more he displays patience, he is blessed. If any one is defrauded, if any one is despised, for the name of the Lord, he is truly the servant of Christ. Take heed that no plant of the devil be found among you, for such a plant is bitter. Watch therefore, be sober in Christ Jesus. (Ignatius of Antioch to the Christians in Ephesus, approx. 107-108 A.D., Ch. 10; expanded version of earliest text)

✝ St. Ignatius of Antioch, Pray for Us ✝