January 11, 2017 + A Change in Our Ways Following Baptism
by St. Gregory of Nyssa
But do ye all, as many as are made glad, by the gift of regeneration, and make your boast of that saving renewal, show me, after the sacramental grace, the change in your ways that should follow it, and make known by the purity of your conversation the difference effected by your transformation for the better. For of those things which are before our eyes nothing is altered: the characteristics of the body remain unchanged, and the mould of the visible nature is nowise different. But there is certainly need of some manifest proof, by which we may recognize the new-born man, discerning by clear tokens the new from the old. And these I think are to be found in the intentional motions of the soul, whereby it separates itself from its old customary life, and enters on a newer way of conversation, and will clearly teach those acquainted with it that it has become something different from its former self, bearing in it no token by which the old self was recognized. This, if you be persuaded by me, and keep my words as a law, is the mode of the transformation. The man that was before Baptism was wanton, covetous, grasping at the goods of others, a reviler, a liar, a slanderer, and all that is kindred with these things, and consequent from them. Let him now become orderly, sober, content with his own possessions, and imparting from them to those in poverty, truthful, courteous, affable—in a word, following every laudable course of conduct. For as darkness is dispelled by light, and black disappears as whiteness is spread over it, so the old man also disappears when adorned with the works of righteousness. Thou seest how Zacchæus also by the change of his life slew the publican, making fourfold restitution to those whom he had unjustly damaged, and the rest he divided with the poor—the treasure which he had before got by ill means from the poor whom he oppressed. The Evangelist Matthew, another publican, of the same business with Zacchæus, at once after his call changed his life as if it had been a mask. Paul was a persecutor, but after the grace bestowed on him an Apostle, bearing the weight of his fetters for Christ's sake, as an act of amends and repentance for those unjust bonds which he once received from the Law, and bore for use against the Gospel. Such ought you to be in your regeneration: so ought you to blot out your habits that tend to sin; so ought the sons of God to have their conversation: for after the grace bestowed we are called His children. And therefore we ought narrowly to scrutinize our Father's characteristics, that by fashioning and framing ourselves to the likeness of our Father, we may appear true children of Him Who calls us to the adoption according to grace. For the bastard and the supposititious son, who belies his father's nobility in his deeds, is a sad reproach. Therefore also, methinks, it is that the Lord Himself, laying down for us in the Gospels the rules of our life, uses these words to His disciples, "Do good to them that hate you, pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." For then He says they are sons when in their own modes of thought they are fashioned in loving kindness towards their kindred, after the likeness of the Father's goodness.
From "A Sermon for the Day of the Lights," accessed at https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf205.xii.iii.html.
Venerable Theodosius the Great, the Cenobiarch
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile, and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance. By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe! Our Father Theodosius, pray to Christ God to save our souls!
Kontakion, Tone 8
Planted in the courts of your Lord, you blossomed beautifully with virtue, and increased your children in the desert, showering them with streams of your tears, O chief shepherd of the divine flock of God. Therefore, we cry to you: "Rejoice, Father Theodosius."
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