st john of damascus
St. John of Damascus, Homily 1 on the Dormition
O wonder truly above nature! O amazing event! Death, long seen as revolting and hateful, is now praised and called blessed. Long known as the bearer of sadness and depression, of tears and melancholy, it is now revealed as the cause of joy and celebration. So it is, if for all God's servants, who death is now called blessed, the ends if their lives give sure proof that they have found God's favor – if death is called blessed for this reason! Death brings them to fulfillment and shows them to be blessed by making their goodness unchanging; as the proverb puts it, "Do not call a person blessed before his death" (Sir. 11:28).
But we do not understand this as applying to you. Blessedness was yours-not death. Your passing was not your arrival at perfection, nor did your departure bestow security on you. For to you the beginning, the middle and end of all the good things that are beyond minds, their security and true confirmation, was your conceiving without male seed, God's dwelling in you, your childbearing without damage [to your virginity] So you truly predicted that you would be called blessed by all generations, bot from the moment of death but from the very moment of that conception (Lk. 1:48). Therefore death has not made you blessed, but you have yourself made death glorious; you have destroyed its horror and shown death to be a joy.
by St. John of Damascus
From An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book I, Chapter 1.
. . . God has not gone so far as to leave us in complete ignorance, for through nature the knowledge of the existence of God has been revealed by Him to all men. The very creation of its harmony and ordering proclaims the majesty of the divine nature. Indeed, He has given us knowledge of Himself in accordance with our capacity, at first through the Law and the Prophets and then afterwards through His only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Accordingly, we accept all those things that have been handed down by the Law and the Prophets and the Apostles and the Evangelists, and we know and revere them, and over and above these things we seek nothing else. For, since God is good, He is the author of all good and is not subject to malice or to any affection. For malice is far removed from the divine nature, which is the unaffected and only good. Since, therefore, He knows all things and provides for each in accordance with his needs, He has revealed to us what it was expedient for us to know, whereas that which we were unable to bear He has withheld. With these things let us be content and in them let us abide and let us not step over the ancient bounds or pass beyond the divine tradition.