Friday, July 22, 2005

Gregorian Charm

A few days ago I posted about Gregory of Nyssa and his homily. I haven't been able to find it anywhere online so here it is:

"When we look down from the sublime words of the Lord into the ineffable depths of his thoughts, we have an experience similar to that of gazing down from a high cliff into the immense sea below. On the coastline one can often see rocky cliffs where the seaward face has been sliced off sheer from the top to the bottom, with the tops of the cliff projecting outwards forming a promontory overhanging the depths. If anyone were to look down from such a lofty height into the sea below they would feel giddy. This is exactly as my soul feels now, as it is raised from the ground by this mighty word of the Lord: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’

God offers himself to the vision of those whose hearts have been purified. And yet, as the great John says: ‘No one has seen God at any time’ And the sublime mind of Paul confirms this opinion when eh says that ‘no one has seen or can see God’. God is the slippery steep crag which yields no footholds for our imagination. Moses too, in his teaching, declares that God is so inaccessible that our mind cannot approach him. He explicitly discourages any attempt to apprehend God, saying, ‘No one can see the Lord and live.’ To see the Lord is eternal life, and yet these pillars of the faith, John, Paul and Moses, all declare it to be impossible! What vertigo in the soul this causes! Confronted by the profundity of these words I am confounded.

If God is life, then they who do not see God do not see life. On the other hand, the divinely inspired prophets and apostles assert that it is impossible to see God. Is not all human hope thus destroyed? But the Lord supports our faltering hope, just as he grasped Peter when eh was in danger of sinking and stood him on the waves as thought it were solid ground. If, then, the hand of the Word is extended to us also, supporting those who are at sea in the midst of conflicting speculations, we can be without fear. We are gripped by the guiding hand of the Word who says to us: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’

Those who see God shall possess in this act of seeing everything that is good: eternal life, eternal incorruption, unending bliss. With these things we shall experience the joy of the eternal kingdom in which happiness is secure; we shall see the true light and hear the delightful voice of the Spirit; we shall rejoice unceasingly in all that is good in the inaccessible glory of God. This is the magnificent consummation of our hope held out to us by the promise of this Beatitude."

What a message! What a preacher! God help me to be as inspiring in the talks I'm working on for our youth holiday and the children's holiday club.

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