Now, it is certainly required that what is subject to change be in a sense always coming to birth. In mutable nature nothing can be observed which is always the same. Being born, in the sense of constantly experiencing change, does not come about as a result of external initiative, as is the case with the birth of the body, which takes place by chance. Such a [spiritual] birth occurs by choice. We are in some manner our own parents, giving birth to ourselves by our own free choice in accordance with whatever we wish to be … moulding ourselves to the teaching of virtue or vice.
~ St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses, 2.3
Birth is a common spiritual metaphor, but—at least in my own case—I do not think the depth of this metaphor is contemplated often enough. Continue reading
Abba Hyperichius said: “Let your mind be ever upon the kingdom of heaven, and you will soon win its inheritance.”
~ Sayings of the Desert Fathers 11.35
The kingdom of heaven (or kingdom of God) is not an obvious concept to many people today. I cannot claim any comprehensive understanding myself, but I can offer here a few basic observations, particularly in relation to faith, itself an often misunderstood concept. Continue reading
The wicked man is a punishment to himself, but the upright man is a grace to himself—and to either, whether good or bad, the reward of his deeds is paid in his own person.
~ St. Ambrose of Milan, De Officiis 1.12
This perspective of St. Ambrose of Milan is one that is quite common among ancient Christians. In some sense they also expect a coming, final judgment, of course, but I am not clear that such was any different than the natural consequences of our actions now, simply taken to their logical ends. In any case, many today, perhaps, could benefit from reconsidering their concepts of sin, merit, reward, and punishment from this more anthropological perspective of St. Ambrose. Continue reading