st theodore the studite


April 16, 2014 + Catachesis 73

by St. Theodore the Studite, Given on Good Friday

Catechesis 73: On the saving passion of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ

Brethren and Fathers, while the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ when they are recalled are always able to pierce the soul, they do so especially in these present days, on which each of them reached its end. What then are they? The murderous council against him, the Jewish arrest, his being led away to death, his arraignment before Pilate's tribunal, the interrogation, the scourging, the blows, the spittings, the insults, the mockeries, the ascent of the Cross, the nailing of his hands and feet, the tasting of gall, the piercing of his side and all the other things which blazed forth [This word is not in the lexica, but the meaning is clear.] with them, which the world cannot contain, nor can anyone worthily proclaim, not human tongue, nor even all the tongues of angels together. For let us consider, brethren, this great and ineffable mystery. The Lord who reveals the counsels of hearts [1 Cor. 4:5] and knows every human desire is the one who is taken before a council of death; the Lord who bears all things by the word of his power [Hebrews 1:3.] is the one who is handed over to sinners; the Lord who binds the water in the clouds [Job 26:8.] and sows in the earth in due season and uniformly is the one who is led away prisoner; the Lord who measures the heavens with the span of his hand and the earth in a handful and weighed all the mountains in the balance [Isaias 40:12.] is the one who is struck by the hand of a servant; the Lord who adorned the boundaries of the earth with flowers is the one who is dishonourably crowned with thorns; the Lord who planted the tree of life in Paradise is the one who is hanged upon an accursed tree.

April 9, 2014 + Catachesis 68

by St. Theodore the Studite, Given on Friday of the 5th Sunday of the Great Fast

Catechesis 68: That we must be renewed for what is ahead through endurance of the trials that fall upon us, both visible and invisible.

Brethren and fathers, because winter has passed and spring has arrived, we see creation flourishing again; the plants are flowering, the earth is growing green, the birds are singing and everything else is being renewed; and we take pleasure in all this and we glorify God the master craftsman who transforms and changes creation year by year, and it is reasonable to do so. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made [Rom. 1:20]. It is our duty not just to stay where we are, but to advance further and to examine carefully for ourselves the logic of creation. How? Because this renewal has winter as its cause. It would not have reached its prime had it not first undergone snows and rains and winds. And so it is with the soul; unless it is first snowed on by afflictions, troubles and difficulties, it will not flower, it will not fruit; but by enduring, it bears fruit and partakes in a blessing from God, as it is written: Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, partakes in a blessing from God [Heb. 6:7].

April 2, 2014 + Catachesis 61

by St. Theodore the Studite, Given on Friday of the 3rd Week of the Great Fast

Catechesis 61: That we must not submit ourselves in temptations,
and about fasting.

Brethren and fathers, yesterday a tempest and to-day calm; yesterday a <disturbance> [1] and today quiet; but blessed is God, who has also dispelled the trial and given you power to remain unmoved in the expectation of threats. This is the way of true Christians, this is the way of authentic monks, to hold themselves always in readiness in the face of dangers on behalf of virtue and to consider nothing more precious that the commandment of God. Those who came said what they said, and they left not so much amazed as ashamed; while to you may the Lord grant the perfect reward in return for your having chosen to be persecuted for his sake; and being rich in mercy he knows how to crown from the intention alone the one who chooses the good. But in fact the trial has not been dispelled, but again and again it continues, and particularly because everywhere there are edicts of the rulers that no one is to lag behind from having a share in heretical fellowship. And so let us hear the Apostle when he says, Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.

March 26, 2014 + Catachesis 66

by St. Theodore the Studite, Given on the Fourth Wednesday of the Great Fast

Catechesis 66: That This Pascha Is a Type of the Future and Eternal Pascha; and About Endurance and Courage.

Brethren and fathers, Lent is already galloping past and the soul rejoices at the imminence of Pascha, because by it it finds rest and is relieved of many toils. Why did this thought sound for me in advance? Because it is as if our whole life directs its reason contemplating the eternal Pascha. For this present Pascha, even though it is great and revered, is nevertheless, as our fathers explain, only a type of that Pascha to come. For this Pascha is for one day and it passes, while that Pascha has no successor. From it "pain, grief and sighing have fled away" [1]; there everlasting joy, gladness and rejoicing; there the sound of those who feast [2], a choir of those who keep festival and contemplation of eternal light; where there is the blessed breakfast[3] of Christ and the new [4] drink of which Christ spoke, "I shall not drink of the fruit of this vine, until I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father". [5] Of this He spoke to his disciples when He was about to ascend to heaven, "I am going to prepare a place for you and, if I go, I will prepare a place for you. I am coming again and I will take you to myself, so that where I am you maybe also. And where I am going you know, and the way you know." [6] And a little further on, "On that day you will know that I am in the Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you." [7] And elsewhere, "Father, I wish that where I am they may be with Me also, so that they may see My glory, which You gave Me, because You loved from before the foundation of the world." [8] But because this concerns not only the Apostles, but also ourselves, He also said, "I do not ask this only for them, but also for those who through their word believe in Me, so that all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You, that they may also be one in Us." [9] What could be more comforting than these words? What could be more appealing? What soul can they not soften? What heart not prick with compunction, even should someone say that the human heart is a nature of stone? With thoughts like these the saints bore all that they bore, considering afflictions as joys, constraints as freedoms [10], struggles as delights, harsh training as relaxation, deaths as lives.

March 19, 2014 + St. Theodore the Studite on Fasting and Dispassion

Taken from Catechesis 54 of St. Theodore the Studite

Brethren and fathers, the season of Lent, when compared to the whole year, may be likened to a storm-free harbor, in which all who are sailing together enjoy a spiritual calm. For the present season is one of salvation not for monks and nuns only, but also for lay people, for great and small, for rulers and ruled, for emperors and priests, for every race and for every age. For cities and villages reduce their hubbub and bustle, while psalmody and hymns, prayers and entreaties take their place, by which our good God is propitiated and so guides our spirits to peace and pardons our offences, if, with a sincere heart, we will only fall down before him with fear and trembling and weep before him, promising improvement for the future. But let the leaders of the churches speak of what is suitable to lay people, for just as those who run in the stadium need the vocal support of their fellow contestants, so fasters need the encouragement of their teachers. But I, since I have been placed at your head, honored brethren, will also talk to you briefly. Fasting then is a renewal of the soul, for the holy Apostle says, Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward is being renewed day by day. And if it is being renewed, clearly it is being made beautiful according to its original beauty; made beautiful in itself it is being drawn lovingly to the one who said, I and the Father will come and make our dwelling with him.

Catechesis by St. Theodore the Studite on Meatfare Sunday

Catechesis on the great and manifest day of our Lord Jesus Christ, spoken by St. Theodore the Studite on Meatfare Sunday

On the Saving Passion of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ

CATECHESIS 73, St. Theodore the Studite

On the saving passion of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
Given on Great and Holy Friday.

Brethren and Fathers, while the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ when they are recalled are always able to pierce the soul, they do so especially in these present days, on which each of them reached its end. What then are they? The murderous council against him, the Jewish arrest, his being led away to death, his arraignment before Pilate's tribunal, the interrogation, the scourging, the blows, the spittings, the insults, the mockeries, the ascent of the Cross, the nailing of his hands and feet, the tasting of gall, the piercing of his side and all the other things which blazed forth with them, which the world cannot contain, nor can anyone worthily proclaim, not human tongue, nor even all the tongues of angels together.

For let us consider, brethren, this great and ineffable mystery. The Lord who reveals the counsels of hearts [1 Cor. 4:5] and knows every human desire is the one who is taken before a council of death; the Lord who bears all things by the word of his power [Hebrews 1:3] is the one who is handed over to sinners; the Lord who binds the water in the clouds [Job 26:8] and sows in the earth in due season and uniformly is the one who is led away prisoner; the Lord who measures the heavens with the span of his hand and the earth in a handful and weighed all the mountains in the balance [Isaias 40:12.] is the one who is struck by the hand of a servant; the Lord who adorned the boundaries of the earth with flowers is the one who is dishonourably crowned with thorns; the Lord who planted the tree of life in Paradise is the one who is hanged upon an accursed tree.