~ Words of the Church Fathers ~
~ On the great desire of God
‘God will have all men to be saved’ (I Tim; 2:4).
God desires that all men be saved; for this the Lord Jesus descended into hell, to save those also who had lived on earth before His coming. For, if He had not descended into hell, an enormous number of righteous souls would have perished for ever. And further: if He had not descended into hell, it, the greatest abode of evil against God and the human race, would have remained undestroyed. These two reasons, therefore, woke Christ the life-Giver and sent Him down in spirit into hell: firstly, to destroy the nest of the powers of hell; and secondly, to lead forth from hell to Paradise the souls of our forefathers and the prophets and righteous men and women, who had fulfilled the ancient Law of God and had thus been pleasing to Him. Before Satan had done exulting in Christ’s humiliation and death on the Cross, Christ appeared, living and almighty, in the midst of hell, the chief abode of Satan. What unexpected and devastating tidings for Satan! For three years he had plaited a noose for Christ on earth, and in three days Christ destroyed his kingdom and led out the most precious booty in the form of a swarm of righteous souls.
Thou desirest that all men be saved, O Lord. We pray Thee: save us also, for there is neither salvation nor a Saviour apart from Thee. In Thee only do we hope, and Thee alone do we worship, Thee and the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
~ On Thomas’s proof by experience
My Lord and my God!’ (John 20:28).
When the Apostle Thomas touched the wounds of the Lord Jesus, he cried: ‘My Lord and my God!’
When Mary Magdalene heard the voice of the Risen One in the garden, she exclaimed in her soul: ‘My Lord and my God!’
When Saul saw the light and heard the words of the Risen One, he acknowledged: ‘My Lord and my God!’
When the pagans beheld how innumerable martyrs endured their sufferings with joy, and asked them who was this Christ, they each answered: ‘My Lord and my God’.
When mockers ridiculed the army of ascetic monks, and asked them who it was for whom they laid on themselves such strict asceticism, they all had only one reply: ‘My Lord and my God’.
When mockers ridiculed maidens who had vowed virginity and asked them who it was for whom they scorned marriage, they all had only one reply: ‘My Lord and my God’.
When lovers of money asked rich men, in disbelief, for whose sake they had given away their riches and become poor, they answered one and the same thing: ‘My Lord and my God’.
Some saw Him, and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some only heard Him, and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some touched Him, and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some perceived Him in the tissue of events and the destinies of peoples, and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some came to know Him by some sign, either to themselves or to others, and cried out: ‘My Lord and my God!’ And some only came to hear of Him from others, and believed, and cried: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Indeed, these last are the most blessed.
Let us also cry with all our hearts, however we have come to the discovery and knowledge of Him: ‘My Lord and my God!’
To Thee be glory and praise for ever. Amen.
~ The Prologue from Ochrid, St Nikolai Velimirović