“As he begins his exposition, Isaac emphasizes that there is no special power in the cross different from that power through which the worlds were brought into being and which governs all of creation in accordance with God’s will. In the cross lives the very same power that lived in the ark of the covenant, regarded with awesome veneration by the people of Israel: The limitless power of God dwells in the cross, just as it resided in an incomprehensible way in the ark which was venerated amidst great honor and awe by the Jewish people, performing by it miracles and awesome signs in the midst of those who were not ashamed to call it ‘God’, that is, they would gaze upon it in awe as though upon God, because of the glory of God’s honored name which was upon it. This ark was honored with this name not only by the Jewish people, but by foreign people, their enemies: ‘Woe to us, for the God of the People has come to camp today’. That power which existed in the ark is believed by us to exist in this revered form of the cross, which we hold in honor in great awareness of God.’ ” (Hilarion Alfeyev, The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian, pp 164-165)
Some thoughts from Church Fathers and a Mother of the Desert on how we can keep Great Lent.
- “Lift up and stretch out your hands, not to heaven but to the poor; for if you stretch out your hands to the poor, you have reached the summit of heaven. But if you lift up your hands in prayer without sharing with the poor, it is worth nothing. … Every family should have a room where Christ is welcomed in the person of the hungry and thirsty stranger. The poor are a greater temple than the sanctuary; this altar the poor, you can raise up anywhere, on the street, and offer the liturgy at any hour. – St. John Chrysostom
- Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead. – St. John Chrysostom
- Do not ask for love from your neighbor, for if you ask and he does not respond, you will be troubled. Instead show your love for your neighbor and you will be at rest, and so will bring your neighbor to love. – St. Dorotheos of Gaza
- What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me? (Psalm 116:12) The answer that came from our Lord is: ‘Very I say unto you, inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me (Matthew 25:40).
- It is good to give alms for people’s sake. Even if it is done only to please others, through it one can begin to seek to please God. – Amma Sarah (The Pearl of Great Price, pps. 58-59)