July 2018 Letter
During this apostles’ fast, let us contemplate on the sayings of the church fathers on the start of the church and its unity:
- Ignatius of Antioch: “make an effort to meet more frequently to celebrate God’s Eucharist and to offer praise. For, when you meet frequently in the same place, the forces of Satan are overthrown, and his baneful influence is neutralized by the unanimity of your faith. Nothing is more precious than peace: it puts an end to every war waged by heavenly or earthly enemies. Let us, then, do all things in the conviction that He dwells in us. Then we shall be His temples (1 Cor 6: 19), and He will be our God within us. Let us, then, love Him as He deserves.”
- St Gregory Nazianzen: “If Christ, when it was possible for Him to abide in His own honor and deity, not only so far emptied Himself as to take the form of a servant (Phi 2: 7), but also endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb 12: 2), that He might, by His own sufferings destroy sin, and by death slay death (Heb 2: 14). How then could we, being the disciples of Christ who emptied Himself for our sake, even to the form of a servant and gathered us to Himself, we who are strangers to the heavenly goods, how could we not seek to be in harmony with each other, or even to embrace one another and maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4: 3)? Isn’t this the mystery hidden in the Law and Prophets (Mat 7: 12; Rom 13: 8-10), and even their very core?!”
- St John Chrysostom: “There came out from His side water and blood. Beloved, do not pass this mystery by without a thought. For I have still another mystical explanation to give. I said that there was a symbol of baptism and the mysteries (Eucharist) in that blood and water. It is from both of these that the church is sprung through the bath of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Tit 3: 5), through baptism and the mysteries. But the symbols of baptism and the mysteries come from the side of Christ. It is from His side, therefore, that Christ formed His church, just as He formed Eve from the side of Adam. And so Moses, too, in his account of the first man, has Adam say: “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2: 23), hinting to us of the Master’s side. Just as at that time God took the rib of Adam and formed a woman, so Christ gave us blood and water from His side and formed the church. Just as then He took the rib from Adam when he was in a deep sleep, so now He gave us blood and water after His death, first the water and then the blood… Have you seen how Christ unites to Himself His bride? Have you seen with what food He nurtures us all? It is by the same food that we have been formed and are fed”.
- St Cyril the Great: “If we all partake of the one Bread, we are all made one Body, for Christ cannot suffer severance. Therefore also the church becomes Christs’ Body, and we are also individually His members, according to the wisdom of Paul. For we, being all of us united to Christ through His Holy Body, inasmuch as we have received Him who is one and indivisible in our own bodies, owe the service of our members to Him rather than to ourselves … And that those who partake of His holy Flesh do gain this actual physical unity, I mean with Christ. And if we are, all of us, of the same Body with one another in Christ, and not only with one another, but also of course with Him Who is in us through His Flesh, how are we not then, all of us, clearly one, both with one another and with Christ? For Christ is the bond of union, being at once God and Man.
The blessings of St. Mary & St. Mercurius, and the blessings of the holly apostles be with us all.
Belleville, July 1, 2018