Feast of the Holy Great Martyr Demetrius the Myrrh-streamer
THE FATHERS of the Church are honored and known as the great luminaries who reveal to us liturgically that “the Light of Christ shines upon all” (Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts).
When you approach them, you find a spontaneous offering of the truth which sets free. You find life, honesty, confession, humility, the wealth of the spirit, the ascension of the flesh, the transfiguration of the world, the illumination of the opaque, the meaning of the insignificant, the grace of eternity spread over the everyday and ordinary, man given his true value, the cooling-fiery furnace of the Divine Liturgy in which all things have been with a light which transfigures them: it makes them all fire. It makes them all cooling dew. The Fathers, full of grace as they are, move about freely. They speak personally. They scatter blessing. They tolerate everyone (in their strictness). They know everyone through their love. They love everyone with the love of the one God in Trinity, who is love. They love everyone, because they themselves are love. Through them you know that the Orthodox Church lives the truth as a communion of love. It honors communion as a manifestation of the trinitarian deity. It respects man as a person in communion.
And God the Word goes outside Himself and comes to dwell in all through His intense longing, that all may become partakers of His grace and His divinity. He does not come to advertise the wealth of His divinity and reveal our worthlessness and poverty. Instead, He becomes poor, though He was rich, so that by His poverty we might become rich (2 Cor. 8.9). He becomes man and takes on everything that is ours, apart from sin, so as to give us everything that is His, apart from identity in essence. So that all may become sons of God and gods by grace.
This self-emptying, as a work of unfathomable love, is a theophany – a revelation of the truth of God as a communion of persons who love each other.
This is the gospel of the new creation, the message of life which the Fathers proclaim by their existence. They show the way of existence. And they teach you how to live, to write, to organize.
They allow everything to move freely. They wait for the other person to find his own rhythm, to find his path. They sacrifice their lives, in the likeness of the God-man, for the life of the other. They pour out grace. They hide their virtue out of modesty. They know that everything true is given from above. They have given to God what little they had. And they have received everything. They receive it constantly, they accept it without ceasing. And they cannot bear the abundance of life. They want to withdraw to the sidelines, to be quiet, to vanish, to calm down, not to be commented on. All they want is for others to live.
This reality of the dawning of grace as a divine gift is something greater than all the glories and honors of the world.
They are somewhere else. The root of their being is watered by mystical streams. They receive a strange consolation. They live amidst the origin of worlds: “When the stars came into being, all my angels praised me” (Job 38.7, LXX). God “works until now” (Jn. 5.17) bringing about the salvation of the world; and the Saints see and are amazed, and sing His praise. They contract – “He must increase, and I must decrease” (Jn. 3.30) – in order for divine love to circulate, to flow, to pour forth. For the earth to be watered. For the shadow to be illuminated. For the sorrow of the world to be comforted, to be turned to rejoicing.
They sought first the Kingdom of God, and everything else was given them as a free gift. They are not simply thinkers, orators, writers, poets. They are free people, true, real; they are united with God. They moved spontaneously. They expressed themselves honestly. They loved humility. They were filled with wisdom. They became golden-mouthed orators, theologians, poets, architects of the word. They developed hidden talents. Their being shone out of them. They did not learn things divine, they experienced them; they underwent them. These things changed them, deified them. They have become a revelation of God – in other words, a true revelation of man. They show what man is, and what he is able to become.
~Archimandrite Vasileios, “The Light of Christ Shines upon All” through All the Saints
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