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09. Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus

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John Hilary Poitiers Damascus

Chapter XIII.—Concerning the holy and immaculate Mysteries of the Lord.

God    Greg. Naz., Orat. 42; Dion. De div. nom., ch. 3. Who is good and altogether good and more than good, Who is goodness throughout, by reason of the exceeding riches of His goodness did not suffer Himself, that is His nature, only to be good, with no other to participate therein, but because of this He made first the spiritual and heavenly powers: next the visible and sensible universe: next man with his spiritual and sentient nature. All things, therefore, which he made, share in His goodness in respect of their existence. For He Himself is existence to all, since all things that are, are in Him    ., not only because it was He that brought them out of nothing into being, but because His energy preserves and maintains all that He made: and in especial the living creatures. For both in that they exist and in that they 82benjoy life they share in His goodness. But in truth those of them that have reason have a still greater share in that, both because of what has been already said and also because of the very reason which they possess. For they are somehow more dearly akin to Him, even though He is incomparably higher than they.

Man, however, being endowed with reason and free will, received the power of continuous union with God through his own choice, if indeed he should abide in goodness, that is in obedience to his Maker. Since, however, he transgressed the command of his Creator and became liable to death and corruption, the Creator and Maker of our race, because of His bowels of compassion, took on our likeness, becoming man in all things but without sin, and was united to our nature    .. For since He bestowed on us His own image and His own spirit and we did not keep them safe, He took Himself a share in our poor and weak nature, in order that He might cleanse us and make us incorruptible, and establish us once more as partakers of His divinity.

For it was fitting that not only the first-fruits of our nature should partake in the higher good but every man who wished it, and that a second birth should take place and that the nourishment should be new and suitable to the birth and thus the measure of perfection be attained. Through His birth, that is, His incarnation, and baptism and passion and resurrection, He delivered our nature from the sin of our first parent and death and corruption, and became the first-fruits of the resurrection, and made Himself the way and image and pattern, in order that we, too, following in His footsteps, may become by adoption what He is Himself by nature    ., sons and heirs of God and joint heirs with Him    Variant, φύσει καὶ κληρονόμοι τῆς αὐτοῦ γενώμεθα χάριτος, και αὐτου υἰοι, καὶ συγκληρονόμοι.. He gave us therefore, as I said, a second birth in order that, just as we who are born of Adam are in his image and are the heirs of the curse and corruption, so also being born of Him we may be in His likeness and heirs    Text, κληρονομήσωμεν. Variant, κληρονομήσαντες. of His incorruption and blessing and glory.

Now seeing that this Adam is spiritual, it was meet that both the birth and likewise the food should be spiritual too, but since we are of a double and compound nature, it is meet that both the birth should be double and likewise the food compound. We were therefore given a birth by water and Spirit: I mean, by the holy baptism    Chrys. in Matt., Hom. 83; St. .: and the food is the very bread of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who came down from heaven    St. .. For when He was about to take on Himself a voluntary death for our sakes, on the night on which He gave Himself up, He laid a new covenant on His holy disciples and apostles, and through them on all who believe on Him. In the upper chamber, then, of holy and illustrious Sion, after He had eaten the ancient Passover with His disciples and had fulfilled the ancient covenant, He washed His disciples’ feet    Ibid. xiii. in token of the holy baptism. Then having broken bread He gave it to them saying, Take, eat, this is My body broken for you for the remission of sins    St. ; Liturg. S. Jacobi.. Likewise also He took the cup of wine and water and gave it to them saying, Drink ye all of it: for this is My blood, the blood of the New Testament which is shed for you for the remission of sins. This do ye in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the death of the Son of man and confess His resurrection until He come    St. Matt. xxvi. 27, 28; St. Mark xiv. 22–24; St. Luke xxii. 19, 20; 1 Cor. xi. 24–26..

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