Tags

, , , ,

St John of Damascus, First Canons of Odes Seven and Eight“The bush on the mountain that was not consumed by fire, and the Chaldean furnace that brought refreshment as the dew, plainly prefigured thee, O Bride of God.  For in a material womb, unconsumed thou hast received the divine and immaterial fire.  Therefore we cry aloud unto Him who was born of thee:  O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou. . . .  Inspired by God, the divine choir spoke of thee in prophecy as the Mountain, the Gate of heaven, and the spiritual Ladder:  for out of thee was hewn a stone, not cut by hand of man; and thou art the gate through which passed the Lord of wonders, the God of our fathers. . . .  The preordained tabernacle of our reconciliation with God now begins to be.  It is she who shall bear unto us the Word, appearing in the material substance of the flesh.  He has brought us from not being into being:  His praises do we sing and we exalt Him above all for ever.  Ann’s barrenness was transformed, thereby destroying the world’s barrenness in good things; and this wonder plainly foreshadowed Christ’s coming to dwell with mortal men.  He has brought us from not being into being:  His praises do we sing and we exalt Him above all for ever.” 

St. Gregory Palamas, Homily On the Nativity of the Mother of God“The time is always right to make a beginning of a way of life that will lead to salvation (cf. 2 cor 6:2, Rom 13:12-13). . . .  If, however, it were necessary to name the most appropriate season of all, and if, just as there is a time to sow and a time to reap, a time to plant and a time to harvest, and a time for everything else (cf. Eccl. 3:1-8), you are looking for a season especially suited for beginning a good work, then it is autumn, particularly this month, which is our first month and the start of the year, when our salvation had its origin, as we celebrate today.  This sacred feast and holiday that we are keeping is the first to commemorate our recall and re-creation according to grace, for on it all things began to be made new, enduring precepts began to be brought in instead of temporary ones, the spirit instead of the letter, the truth instead of shadows.  Today a new world and a mysterious paradise have been revealed, in which and from which a New Adam came into being, re-making the Old Adam and renewing the universe.  He is not led astray by the deceiver, but deceives him, and bestows freedom on those enslaved to sin through his treachery.  Today a paradoxical book has been made ready on earth, which in an indescribable way can hold, not the imprint of words, but the living Word Himself; not a word consisting of air, but the heavenly Word; not a word that perishes as soon as it is formed, but the Word Who snatches those who draw near Him from perdition; not a word made by the movement of a man’s tongue, but the Word begotten of God the Father before all ages.  Today the living Tabernacle of God not made with hands appears, the inspired human Ark of the true Bread of Life sent down from heaven for us (cf. John 6:32ff).  Today, according to the Psalms, ‘Truth has sprung up from the earth,’ the true image of human nobility which comes from above, ‘and righteousness has looked down from heaven’ (Ps. 85:11 LXX).  This righteousness has deposed the unrighteous ruler from his unjust dominion, after being wrongfully condemned by him and rightly condemning him, and having bound the strong and evil one, plundered his goods (cf. Matt. 12:29), and transformed them, rendering them receptive to divine righteousness.  Thus Christ took sin’s prisoners to live with Him for ever, justifying them by faith in Him, but He bound the prince of sin with inescapable bonds, and delivered him to eternal fire without light.  Today, as prophesied, out of the ‘stem of Jesse’ a rod has come forth (cf. Isa. 11:1), from which a flower has grown which knows no wilting.  This rod recalls our human nature, which had withered and fallen away from the unfading garden of delight, makes it bloom again, grants it to flourish for ever, brings it up to heaven, and leads it into paradise.  With this rod the great Shepherd moves His human flock to eternal pastures, and supported by this rod, our nature lays aside its old age and feeble senility, and easily strides towards heaven, leaving the earth below for those who, devoid of support, are plunging downwards.  But who is the new world, the mysterious paradise, the paradoxical book, the inspired Tabernacle and Ark of God, the truth sprung from the earth, the much extolled rod of Jesse?  It is the Maiden who before and after childbearing is eternally virgin, whose birth from a barren mother we celebrate today.”

±±±