Sunday, December 29, 2013

Church Fathers on Liturgical Life

Nothing so arouses the soul, gives it wings, sets it free from the earth, releases it from the prison of the body, teaches it to love wisdom and to despise all the things of this life, as concordant melody and sacred song composed in rhythm. St. John Chrysostom
We should offer up doxologies to God with fear and a contrite heart, in order that they may be accepted like fragrant incense. St. John Chrysostom
What state can be more blessed than to imitate on earth the choirs of angels? To begin the day with prayer, and honour our Maker with hymns and songs? As the day brightens, to betake ourselves, with prayer attending on it throughout, to our labours, and to season our work with hymns, as food with salt? The consolation from hymns produces a state of soul that is cheerful and free of sorrow. St. Basil the Great. 

At all times, but most of all while chanting, let us be still and undistracted. For through distractions, the demons aim to ruin our prayer. St. John of the Ladder
And even if you do not understand the meaning of the words, for the time being teach your mouth to say them, for the tongue is sanctified by the words alone whenever it says them with good will. St. John Chrysostom
Recite the words of psalmody as your very own, that you may utter the words of your supplication with insight and with discriminating compunction, like a man who truly understands his work. St. Isaac the Syrian
A holy hymn gives birth to piety of soul, creates a good conscience, and is accepted by God in the treasuries of the heavens. St John Chrysostom
The value of prayer can be inferred from the way the demons attack us during services in church. St. John of the Ladder
A psalm consoles the sad, restrains the joyful, tempers the angry, refreshes the poor and chides the rich man to know himself. To absolutely all who take it, the psalm offers an appropriate medicine; nor does it despise the sinner, but presses upon him the wholesome remedy of penitential tears. St. Niceta of Remesiana
There is nothing upon earth holier, higher, grander, more solemn, more life-giving that the Liturgy. The temple, at this particular time, becomes an earthly heaven; those who officiate represent Christ Himself, the angels, the cherubim, seraphim and apostles. St. John of Kronstadt
Wherever there are spiritual melodies, there does the grace of the Spirit come, sanctifying the mouth and the soul. St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

A religious hymn is a great blessing for everyone. It constitutes praise to the Most High, honour for His holy people, worldwide harmony, an eloquent proof of the Church’s unity. It expresses the voice of the Church, its confession. It brings about a complete spiritual uplifting and absolute peace and joy in redeemed hearts, with the triumphal hymn and song of happiness. It drives away hardness of heat. It chases away disturbance. It dissolves and dissipates despondency...The voice sings the soul’s joy, while the spirit delves into the mysteries of the faith. St. Ambrose of Milan
The book of Psalms uproots the passions with a certain melodic enjoyment and a delight that instils pure thoughts. St. Basil the Great
The virtue of silence, especially in church, is very great...Is anything more unbecoming than the divine words should be so drowned by talking, as not to be heard, believed, or made known, that the sacraments should be indistinctly heard through the sound of voices, that prayer should be hindered when offered for the salvation of all? St. Ambrose of Milan
When you stand in church, be careful not to look here and there or curiously examine how each one of the brethren stands or sings. Rather, pay attention only to yourself and to the chanting and to your sins. St. Symeon the New Theologian

1 comment:

  1. St Ambrose offers such wise words. He would be beside himself with the lack of silence in so much contemporary worship. At St Luke's we once had a visit from some evangelical teenagers who told us they were so struck by the opportunities for silence and prayerful reflection during our traditional liturgy.