The Shepherd, April 2006

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FROM THE FATHERS

“THE LORD descended into the regions beneath the earth, announcing there the good tidings of His coming and of the remission of sins conferred upon those tho believe in Him.”

Holy Hieromartyr Irenæus of Lyons, + 202 A.D.

 “CHRIST DESCENDED into the subterranean regions so that He might ransom from there the just. Now tell me, could you wish the living to rejoice in His grace, though most of them are not holy, and not at the same time want those to regain their liberty who, from Adam on, had been imprisoned for such a long time? Esaias the Prophet proclaimed such things about Him; and would you not want the King to go down and liberate His herald? David was there, and Samuel, and all the prophets; and John, the same who, through his messengers, said: ‘Art Thou the One Who is come, or look we for another?’ Would you not want Him to go down to free such men as these?”

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, + 386 A.D.

 “GOD THE WORD, the uncaused Creator, Who, with the Father and with His Holy Spirit, created man, though He was immortal and undefiled, when it seemed good to Him, became Man by a certain hidden mystery of wisdom; and because of His exceedingly great love of mankind He took upon Himself perfectly the whole of what he had fashioned, not out of necessity, but by voluntary purpose, so that in the flesh He might condemn sin, and on the Cross discharge the curse, and in the tomb take away the corruption from our midst, and that in His divinity, going down into hades with His soul, He might break the sting of death and dissolve the covenant in regard to Hades.”

Saint Epiphanius of Cyprus, + 403 A.D.

“THE SAVIOUR’S RESURRECTION did not long keep His soul in the lower regions nor His flesh in the tomb; and so speedy was the enlivening of His uncorrupted flesh that it bore a greater resemblance to sleep than to death; because the Divinity, which did not depart from either portion of the human substance He had assumed, reunited by His power that which, by His power, He had separated.”

Saint Leo the Great, Pope of Rome, + 461 A.D.

 “THE LORD JESUS carried off the greatest victory over Satan in the Garden of Gethsemane, and did this in His obedience to God the Father. Through disobedience to God, Adam was overcome by Satan; through obedience to God, Christ overcame Satan, giving salvation to Adam and his descendants. In the Garden of Eden, Satan overcame man; in the Garden of Gethsemane, man overcame Satan.… It may be that Satan was not able to grasp that he was completely defeated in the Garden of Gethsemane, and continued to rejoice in the Lord’s mocking, crucifixion and death. But when the Lord, through death and the tomb, descended like a thunderbolt into Satan’s Kingdom, then Satan realised that his seeming victory on Golgotha was simply the culmination of his defeat in the Garden of Gethsemane.”

Saint Nicolas of Ochrid, + 1956 A.D.

 “BY THE SAVIOUR’S DESCENT into it, the souls of the dead were delivered from Hades; and delivered therefrom too are those who have died after the Resurrection in right belief and piety.”

Saint John of Shanghai, the Wonderworker, + 1966 A.D.  

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