Contemplation on the 1st hour of Great Friday (1)

Why didn't He defend Himself? Why was He silent?

The Lord became the defender of truth, and came in silence before Pilate, on behalf of truth which had been oppressed (John 18:37-38). Others gain victory through making defenses, but our Lord gained victory through His silence, because the recompense of His death through divine silence was the victory of true teaching. He spoke inorder to teach, but kept silent in the tribunal. He was not silent over that which was exalting us, but He did not stuggle against those who were provoking Him. The worlds of His accusers, like a crown on His head, were a source of redemption. He kept silent so that His silence would make them shout even louder, and so that His crown would be made more beautiful through all his clamor.

Contemplation on the Liturgy of the blessing of the water (1)

Why water?

But if any one wishes to know why the grace is given by water and not by a different element, let him take up the Divine Scriptures and he shall learn. For water is a grand thing, and the noblest of the four visible elements of the world. Heaven is the dwelling place of Angels, but the heavens are from the waters: the earth is the place of men, but the earth is from the waters: and before the whole six days' formation of the things that were made, the Spirit of God moves upon the face of the water.  The water was the beginning of the world, and Jordan the beginning of the Gospel tidings: for Israel deliverance from Pharoh was through the sea, and for the world deliverance from sins by the washing of water with the word of God. Where a covenant is made with any, there is water also. After the flood, a covenant was made with Noah: a covenant for Israel from Mount Sinai, but with water, and scarlet wool and hyssop. Elias is taken up, but not apart from water: for first he crosses the Jordan, then in a chariot mounts the heaven. The high-priest is first washed, then offers incense; for Aaron first washed, then was made high-priest: for how could one who had not yet been purified by water pray for the rest? Also as a symbol of Baptism there was a laver set apart within the Tabernacle.

Contemplation on the 9th hour of the Eve of Great Friday (1)

The Kiss

And the traitor says to Jesus, “Master.” Indeed, all heretics, like Judas, address Jesus in the same way, “Master.” They kiss Him even as Judas did. Jesus speaks peacefully to them all, since they are all Judases who betray Him: “Judas, is it with a kiss that you betray the Son of Man?” As for Judas, he is approached by Christ for his false friendship. “Friend, why are you here?” We hear of no one who is good called by that name in the Scriptures. Moreover, to the wicked and the one not weaing a garment he says, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment.” (Matt 22:12) Wicked too is that man in the parable of the denarius who hears the words, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I chose to give to this last as I give to you.” (Matt 20:13-14)

Contemplation on the 6th hour of Holy Wednesday (1)

The soul heated like a burning fire will not be quenched until it is consumed; a man who commits fornication with his near of kin will never cease until the fire burns him up. 17 To a fornicator all bread tastes sweet; he will never cease until he dies" (Sirach 23:16-17)

Youthful lust is wild, but requires many governors, teachers, directors, attendants, and tutors. After all these, it is happiness if it is restrained. For as a horse not broken in, or a wild beast untamed, such is youthful lust. But if from the beginning, from the earliest age, we fix it in good rules, much pains will not be required afterwards; for good habits formed will be to them as a law. Let us not suffer them to do anything which is agreeable, but injurious; nor let us indulge them, as forsooth but children. Especially let us train them in chastity, for there is the very bane of youth. For this many struggles, much attention will be necessary. Let us take wives for them early, so that their brides may receive their bodies pure and unpolluted, so their loves will be more ardent. He that is chaste before marriage, much more will he be chaste after itl and he that practiced fornication before, will practice it after marriage. "All bread," it is said. "is sweet to the fornicator." (Sirach 23:17) Garlands are wont to be worn on the heads of bridegrooms, as a symbol of victory, betokening that they approach the marriage bed unconquered by pleasure. But if captivated by pleasure he has given himself up to harlots, why does he wear a garland, since he has been subdued?

Contemplation on the 11th hour of the Eve of Great Friday (1)

The three denials

What difference does it make that the maid is the first to give Peter away? The men could have recognized him instead. Perhaps this happened so that we may see that the female gender also sinned by killing the Lord, so that His passion should also redeem womankind. A woman therefore was the first to receive the mystery of the Resurrection and to obey the commands (John 20:11-18), so that she abolished the old error of her sin.

Contemplation on the 6th hour of the Eve of Great Friday (3)

"My soul is very sorrowful" 

The Lord, to test the fidelity of the human nature He had taken on, truly felt sorrowful. However, lest the suffering in His soul be overwhelming, He began to feel sorrowful over the events taking place just before His suffering. For it is one thing to feel sorrowful and another thing to begin to feel sorrowful. But He felt sorrowful, not because He feared the suffering that lay ahead and because He had scolded Peter for his timidity but because of the most unfortunate Judas, the falling away of all the apostles, the rejection by the Jewish people, and the overturning of woeful Jerusalem. Jonah, too, became sad when the plant of ivy had withered, unwilling to have this booth disappear.

Contemplation on the 1st hour of the Eve of Monday (1)

How should you hate your life?

“Let him follow Me” means this: Let him walk in my ways, and not in his own; as it written elsewhere, “He that said he abides in Christ, should himself also walk just as He walked.” For he should, if supplying food to the hungry, to do it in the way of mercy and not of boasting, seeking nothing else but the doing of good. In other words, all of that kind of self seeking should be completely separated from a work of charity. He that serves in this way serves Christ, and will have it rightly said to him, “Inasmuch as you did it unto one of the least of those who are My, you did it to me.” And thus doing not only those acts of mercy that pertain to the body but every good workm for the sake of Christ (for then will all be good, because “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes”), he is Christ’s servant even to that work of special love, which is to lay down his life for the brethren, for that were to lay it down also for Christ. For this also will He say hereafter in behalf of His members: Inasmuch as you did it for these, you have done it for me.

Contemplation on the 11th hour of the Eve of Thursday (1)

Glorify Him; flee from vainglory! (John 12:44-50)

Why do you adorn your body, while your soul is neglected, possessed by uncleanness? Why don't you care as much about your soul as you do for your body?..

What madness is this! Shift this adorning within, put these necklaces about your soul. The things that you put around your body help neither to its health nor to its beauty, for it will not make black white, nor what is ugly either beautiful or good looking. But if you put them about your soul, you will soon make it white instead of black; beautiful and well favored instead of ugly and unsightly. The words are not mine, but those of the Lord Himself, who said, "Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow." (Isa. 1:18) 

Contemplation on the 3rd hour of the Eve of Great Friday

Peter's Denial (Luke 22:31-39)

Out of twelve deserted; eleven remained loyal. The cross came; they fled; one remained – Peter, one with One. The one himself fled, and would that he had! He denied Christ. We may say, then, that the entire human race was lost. Because it had perished, the complaint of the Lord crucified is: "The wine press I have trodden alone, and of my people there was no one with me." (Isa 63:3) Then the psalm was fulfilled, "Help, O Lord! For no one now is dutiful." (Ps. 12:1-2) "There is none who does good, no not even one." (Ps. 14:1-3; Rom 3:12) He who has promise, "Even if I should have to die with You, or to be imprisoned, I will not deny You" (Matt 26:35; Mark 14:31) denied Him.

Contemplation on the 3rd hour of Great Thursday (1)

Why did He keep the Passover?

To indicate in every way and until the last day that He was not opposed to the law. And for what possible reason does He send them to an unknown person? To also show by this that He might have avoided suffering. For He had the power to change the minds of those who crucified Him. So it is once again clear: He is willing to suffer. 

Contemplation on the 9th hour of Holy Wednesday (2)

The Cross (John 12:27-36)

A marvelous and mighty paradox has just occured; for the death, which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument of victory against death itself. Therefore, it is also, that He neither endured the death of John, who was beheaded, nor was He sawn asunder, like Isaiah: even in death He preserved His body whole and undivided, so that there should be no excuse hereafter for those who would divide the Church.

Contemplation on the 1st hour of the Eve of Tuesday (1)

Why is the door narrow and why is the path so broad?

Whoever enters must have, among everything, an upright and uncorrupted faith. Second, he must have a spotless morality, in which there is no possibility of blame, according to the measure of human righteousness…Nevertheless those who live in a holy manner cannot do so without labor. For constantly, so to speak, the pathway that leads to virtue is rugged and steep, and is difficult for most men to walk on. For labors spring before us and we need strength, patience, and good conduct…[The broad path] means an unrestrained tendancy to carnal lusts; a base and pleasure loving life; luxurious feasts, parties and banquets; and unrestrained inclinations to everything which is condemned by the law and displeasing to God…Those who enter by the narrow gate must withdraw from all these things in order to be with Christ and feast with Him.

Contemplation on the Liturgy of the Eucharist (1)

The experience of the Eucharist

When we eat the holy body of Christ, our Savior of us all, and drink of His precious blood, we thus obtain the life in us, for we become as if we are one with Himl we dwell in Him, and He too reigns in us. Do not doubt, for this is true, since He is the One who says it clearly, This is My flesh, this is My blood.” (John 6) Rather, accept the word of the Savior in fath, for He is the Truth, who can never lie.