Tag Archives: HolySpirit

Advent Through the Centuries – the fourth century

I missed yesterday! here is the update for the 3rd and 4th centuries of the Church. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 3
The third century of the Church

Scripture:
Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26

Yes, people of Zion living in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. He will be gracious to you when your cry for help rings out; as soon as he hears it, he will answer you.

When the Lord has given you the bread of suffering and the water of distress, he who is your teacher will hide no longer, and you will see your teacher with your own eyes.

Your ears will hear these words behind you, ‘This is the way, keep to it,’ whether you turn to the right or the left.

He will send rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the bread that the ground provides will be rich and nourishing. That day, your cattle will graze in wide pastures.

Oxen and donkeys that work the land will eat for fodder wild sorrel, spread by the shovel-load and fork-load.

On every lofty mountain, on every high hill there will be streams and water-courses, on the day of the great slaughter when the strongholds fall.

Then moonlight will be bright as sunlight and sunlight itself be seven times brighter — like the light of seven days in one — on the day Yahweh dresses his people’s wound and heals the scars of the blows they have received.

Reading: 
Origen, Homily on Luke. Full text not online – expanded text here.

Now let us turn to that part of the prophecy which also concerns the coming of Christ and see whether this too has been fulfilled. The text continues: Every crooked way shall be straightened. Each one of us was once crooked; if we are no longer so, it is entirely due to the grace of Christ. Through his coming to our souls all our crooked ways have been straightened out.

If Christ did not come to your soul, of what use would his historical coming in the flesh be to you? Let us pray that each day we may experience his coming and be able to say: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

Jesus my Lord has come, then. He has smoothed out your rough places and changed your disorderly ways into level paths, making in you an even unimpeded road, a road that is absolutely clear, so that God the Father may walk in you and Christ the Lord make his dwelling in you and say: My Father and I will come and make our home in them.

One of the earliest Christian inscriptions, dating to the 3rd century.

One of the earliest Christian inscriptions, dating to the 3rd century.

Prayer:
Attributed to Cyprian of Carthage, c.200-258

Most gracious Father, bless with Thy special care all penitentiaries and homes of refuge. Look with pity upon those who are housed there. Guide and protect those who have returned to the world. Grant all of them true contrition for past sins, and strengthen them in their good resolutions. Lead them along from grace to grace so that by the help of the Holy Ghost they may persevere in the ways of obedience and humility, and in the struggle against evil thoughts and desires. Grant the Holy Spirit to those engaged in teaching and training them, that they might have a right judgment with respect to those entrusted to them. May they labor for love of Thee with deep humility and singleness of purpose, purity of heart and life, and true zeal for Thy glory and the salvation of souls. Give them faith and love to sustain them in disappointment, love and patience toward those under them, and in Thine own good time crown their work with an eternal recompense. This we ask in the name of Thine only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.

 

Sunday, December 4
The fourth century of the Church

Scripture:
John 1:1-5

Matthew 3:1-12

In due course John the Baptist appeared; he proclaimed this message in the desert of Judaea,’Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.’

This was the man spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said: A voice of one that cries in the desert, ‘Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’
This man John wore a garment made of camel-hair with a leather loin-cloth round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.

Then Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. But when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming retribution? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance, and do not presume to tell yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father,” because, I tell you, God can raise children for Abraham from these stones.

Even now the axe is being laid to the root of the trees, so that any tree failing to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire. I baptise you in water for repentance, but the one who comes after me is more powerful than I, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing-floor and gather his wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’

Reading: 
Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 45, c.380 AD. Full text here.

And that was that the Word of God Himself, Who is before all worlds, the Invisible, the Incomprehensible, the Bodiless, the Beginning of beginning, the Light of Light, the Source of Life and Immortality, the Image of the Archetype, the Immovable Seal, the Unchangeable Image, the Father’s Definition and Word, came to His own Image, and took on Him Flesh for the sake of our flesh, and mingled Himself with an intelligent soul for my soul’s sake, purifying like by like; and in all points except sin was made Man; conceived by the Virgin, who first in body and soul was purified by the Holy Ghost, for it was needful both That Child-bearing should be honoured and that Virginity should receive a higher honour.

He came forth then, as God, with That which He had assumed; one Person in two natures, flesh and Spirit, of which the latter deified the former. O new commingling; O strange conjunction! The Self-existent comes into Being, the Uncreated is created, That which cannot be contained is contained by the intervention of an intellectual soul mediating between the Deity and the corporeity of the flesh. And He who gives riches becomes poor; for He assumes the poverty of my flesh, that I may assume the riches of His Godhead. He that is full empties Himself; for He empties Himself of His Glory for a short while, that I may have a share in His Fulness.

art of the healing of the bleeding woman, from the fourth century.

Art of the healing of the bleeding woman, from the fourth century.

Prayer:
Basil of Caesarea, 329-379

Arising from sleep I thank you, O Holy Trinity,
that, for the sake of your great kindness and long-suffering,
you have not had indignation against me,
for I am slothful and sinful,
neither have you destroyed me in my transgressions:
but you have shown your customary love towards man,
and have raised me up as I lay in heedlessness,
that I might sing my morning hymn and glorify your sovereignty.

Do now enlighten the eyes of my understanding,
open my ears to receive your words
and teach me your commandments.

Help me to do your will,
to sing to you,
to confess you from my heart,
and to extol your All-holy name,
of Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
now and for ever,
and unto the ages of ages.

Amen.

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