Life Upstaged

A few weeks ago, I came across this on Twitter:

I almost didn’t click the link, but I am glad I did. I read through all the posts on her blog, about first being diagnosed with colon cancer, and undergoing different treatments, and then realizing that her condition was terminal. It seems as if she never wavers from her child-like hope and faith in God. It’s so easy to be negative, but her gratitude and graceful attitude is uplifting, as well as the touching comments left by those who knew her.

There is always hope. I get excited when I think about heaven. Although, I don’t know how to picture it I know that it is better than anything we can imagine–and I can imagine some pretty great things. It will be wonderful to see loved ones who have already gone before and be continually present in the Light, where there is no pain or fear. I almost feel guilty the way one does when packing for a trip that others aren’t going on.

 

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The Macarian Homilies on the Heart

Today is the feast day for St. Macarius of Egypt, St. Macarius of Alexandria, and St. Mark of Ephesus. St. Mark of Ephesus is well known. St. Macarius of Alexandria was a 4th century Egyptian monk, a slightly younger contemporary of St. Macarius of Egypt, who is traditionally considered the author of the Macarian homilies. Scholars now doubt this authorship and generally refer to the author as ‘Pseudo-Macarius,’ whom they generally believe to have had close contact with the Cappadocians, St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa.

The heart itself is but a small vessel, yet dragons are there, and there are also lions; there are poisonous beasts and all the treasures of evil. But there too is God, the angels, the life and the kingdom, the light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasuries of grace—all things are there (Homilies, 43.7).

More ‘Ancient Christian Writers’ titles at archive.org!

Several months back I made a post that linked some books from the Ancient Christian Writers series that were freely available at archive.org. I’ve just discovered that only a few days ago some more titles have been added. For some reason, they are not available for preview at archive.org, but their PDFs are freely available:

St. Athanasius on the Incarnation of the Word

Today is the feast day of Ss. Athanasius and Cyril, both Patriarchs of Alexandria who contributed greatly to the Orthodox doctrine of the incarnation.

At one and the same time – this is the wonder – as Man He was living a human life, and as Word He was sustaining the life of the universe, and as Son He was in constant union with the Father.

– St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation, 3.17.

Gregory the Theologian, Or. 14

I’ve recently been reading Oration 14 (On Love for the Poor) by St. Gregory the Theologian. I cannot recommend it enough. It is highly touching and an exceptionally well-argued work of theology, using Scripture and reason in speaking on diverse topics such as the marginalization of the poor, the problem of evil, and the virtues, all harmoniously combined to support his overall argument that mercy is the greatest of the virtues and that God, who is so kind to us, only asks in return that we be kind to our fellow human beings.

Blessed is the one who can make such a distinction, wielding the sword of the Word to separate what is better from what is worse! As holy David says, he has built steps in his heart, and fleeing this deep valley of tears as far as he can, he “seeks the things that are above;” crucified to the world with Christ, he rises from the dead with Christ and ascends with Christ to inherit the life that never fades or deceives – where no serpent lies on the way, ready to strike, watching for his heel and guarding his own head. (Or. 14, 21).

On the problem of evil:

Surely what seems to be unfair to us has its fairness in the plan of God, just as in the physical world there are prominent and lowly features, large and small details, ridges and valleys, by which the beauty of the whole comes into visible existence in their relationship to each other. It is, after all, very much within the skill of the Craftsman if he should adapt the occasional disorder and unevenness of the material realm to achieve the purpose of his creation; and this will be grasped and acknowledged by all of us, when we contemplate the final, perfect beauty of what he has created (Or. 14, 31).

I think this sounds like something St. Augustine might say!

Violence in the Old Testament

David said to Solomon, “My son, I had it in my heart to build a house to the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me upon the earth. Behold, a son shall be born to you; he shall be a man of peace. I will give him peace from all his enemies round about; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days.'”

1 Chronicles 22:7-8, RSV