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)

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*CHARITY:
  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.”

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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.

Amen!

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)

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!