My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
Restoring God’s Image (On Virginity)
By Saint Gregory of Nyssa
Man is A CREATURE endowed with REASON and INTELLIGENCE, and he has been made in the LIKENESS of the undefiled Nature of God. Thus is it said of him in the Book of the creation of the world: "TO THE IMAGE OF GOD HE CREATED HIM" (Genesis 1:27). This CREATURE MAN, then, did not possess as a property of his nature at the beginning any inclination to PASSION and MORTALITY. For the pattern of the image could not have been preserved if in its imitation it had in any respect contradicted its archetype.
But the element of PASSION was introduced later on, AFTER HE WAS CREATED, and in the following way. Man was, as we have said, the "image and likeness" OF THE POWER THAT RULES ALL CREATION; and this LIKENESS to the ruler of all things also extended TO MAN’S POWER OF SELF-DETERMINATION: MAN COULD CHOOSE WHATEVER PLEASED HIM AND WAS NOT ENSLAVED TO ANY EXTERNAL NECESSITY. But man WAS LED ASTRAY BY DECEPTION AND DELIBERATELY DREW UPON HIMSELF THAT CATASTROPHE WHICH ALL MORTALS NOW SHARE. MAN HIMSELF INVENTED EVIL: HE DID NOT FIND IT IN GOD. NOR DID GOD MAKE DEATH; IT WAS MAN HIMSELF WHO, AS IT WERE, WAS THE CREATOR OF ALL THAT IS EVIL.
All who have eyes can enjoy the sunshine, and anyone, if he likes, may deny himself this pleasure simply by closing his eyes. In such a case it is not the sun that withdrew or produces the darkness; rather, man himself put an obstacle between himself and the sun by closing his eyes. And yet, even when the eyes are closed, they cannot cease to function; hence it is the activity of the eyes which bring about the appearance of darkness in man because he deliberately shuts off this vision.
Again, it is like a man who builds a house and does not make any provision for the light to come in. Hence he will obviously be in darkness, since he has deliberately cut himself off from the light.
So too the first man who arose from the earth–he, indeed, WHO BEGOT ALL THE EVIL THAT IS IN MAN–HAD IT IN HIS POWER TO CHOOSE THE GOOD AND BENEFICIAL THINGS OF NATURE THAT LAY AROUND HIM. And yet HE DELIBERATELY INSTITUTED BY HIMSELF THINGS THAT WERE AGAINST NATURE; IN REJECTING VIRTUE BY HIS OWN FREE CHOICE HE FASHIONED THE TEMPTATION TO EVIL. FOR SIN DOES NOT EXIST IN NATURE APART FROM FREE WILL; IT IS NOT A SUBSTANCE IN ITS OWN RIGHT. ALL OF GOD’S CREATURES ARE GOOD, AND NOTHING HE HAS MADE MAY BE DESPISED: He made all things "VERY GOOD" (Genesis 1:31). But in the way I have described, the whole procession of sin ENTERED INTO MAN’S LIFE FOR HIS UNDOING, AND FROM A TINY SOURCE POURED OUT UPON MANKIND AN INFINITE SEA OF EVIL. The soul’s Divine beauty, which had been an IMITATION OF ITS Archetype, was like a blade, darkened with the rust of sin; it no longer kept the beauty of the image it once possessed by nature, and was transformed into the ugliness of evil…
"…We must no longer live in the shadow of the fig tree of this bitter life, but we must cast away the coverings which are the transient leaves of life and come into the presence of Our Creator. We must reject all the deception of taste and sight, and no longer follow the counsel of the venomous serpent, but hold fast only to God’s Commandment. And that Commandment ordered us to touch only what was good and to reject the taste of evil. For this was the beginning of the entire sequence of sin, the unwillingness to be ignorant of evil.
Our first parents were consequently forbidden TO COME TO KNOW EVIL ALONG WITH GOOD; THEY WERE TO RESTRAIN THEMSELVES FROM "THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL" (Genesis 2:9); they WERE TO ENJOY THE GOOD IN ITS PURITY, UNMIXED AND UNMITIGATED BY ANY EVIL. And this, I think, is surely to remain always with God alone; IT IS TO ENJOY THE GOOD WITHOUT MINGLING WITH IT ANYTHING WHICH WOULD SEPARATE THEM FROM IT.
It would seem then, if one might be so bold as to express it, that this is the path by which man can be snatched up out of this world and restored to Paradise, to that place where Saint Paul saw those secret and invisible things which are given to man to utter.
"…The man who has girt himself with self-control lives in the light of a clean conscience, and his life is lit up by the lamp of sincerity. Thus under the rays of truth, his soul remains sleepless and undeceived, and he is not bemused by vain dreams. If we achieve this, as the Logos/Word directs us, we shall enter an Angelic way of life. For the Divine Command likens us to Angels, as for example when He says: "And you yourselves like to men who wait for their lord when he shall return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately" Luke 12:36). It is the Angels who receive the Lord as He returns from the wedding: they sit vigilant before the Gates of Heaven. that, when He rises from the wedding, "the King of Glory" might ENTER IN once more, returning to that beatitude beyond the stars.
The Church is taken into the Mystical Bridal Chamber, and the Angels await the return of their King while he leads the Church to that blessedness that befits her nature.
We too, He has said, should be like the Angels. Their lives are passed far from sin and temptation; they are constantly ready to welcome the Master’s Final Coming. And so too should we make ourselves ready for his call, KEEPING AWAKE BY THE DOORS OF OUR DWELLINGS, WHENEVER HE SHOULD COME AND KNOCK. "Blessed are those servants," He says, "whom the Lord when He cometh, SHALL FIND SO DOING" (Luke 12:37). [Source: From the Glory to Glory)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry)
The sinner and unworthy servant of God