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“God places man in a garden of paradise “to tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15), honoring him with the gift of free will…“He desired that man might belong to Him as the result of his choice.” Our freedom is a gift, for where there is no choice there can be no love. Love and free choice partake of an interpersonal truth….God gave man a commandment so that he would have “material for his free will to act upon. This law was a commandment as to what plants he might partake of, and which one he might not touch…Not however, because it was evil…It would have been good if partaken of at the proper time, for the tree was…contemplation, upon which it is only safe for those who have reached maturity of habit to enter, but which is not good for those who are still somewhat simple and greedy in their habit.” (Saint Gregory the Theologian, Dynamis 3/18/2021)

“Paradise is the place where God dwells. After the creation of humanity, they were brought into Paradise to dwell with God and with the already created spiritual beings. Humanity was meant to grow to maturity and then depart from Paradise bringing Paradise, the presence of God himself, with Him in order to transform the whole creation into Eden. Instead, by partaking of the knowledge of good and evil, humanity became subject to corruption and ultimately death. The first humans were expelled from Paradise, not because of their sin and uncleanness alone, but because for them to live eternally in that state would have made them like the demons, unable to repent (Gen 3:22-24). Rather than bringing Paradise with them, they brought their corruption with them and lived in difficulty within this present world.” (Father Stephen De Young)

“Our home country is the paradise from which we have fallen. We are forbidden to return to it. When we come to know Jesus, we can return along the way by which he returned. We left our paradise by our pride and disobedience, by overvaluing visible things, by succumbing to the tasting of forbidden fruit. We now can return only by weeping and obedience, rejecting visible things, and by curbing our bodily appetites.” (St. Gregory the Great)

“Christ’s experience of human suffering, of taking all our sins onto Himself, breaks through the “Catch 22” of trying to find our way back to a Paradise we have never known. Neither the season of Lent nor any part of the Christian life is about groping around for a Paradise that we cannot see, cannot touch, cannot know and wouldn’t know how to recognize if we came upon it. No, it is about connecting with Jesus Christ.” (Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick)

“The name of God is real. His name is sweet. It dwells within me and burns with Divine fire. It is a treasure given to me in my Baptism. It causes demons to flee and calms the wind and waves. It heals the sick and brings hope to all. It opens the gates of paradise. But this is true of the Name-in-communion and not as an object-in-separation. Veneration is the primary means that brings us into true communion. It is love-extended-towards-the-other. It finds a huge variety of forms in the life of devotion – love is very creative in its expression. That God has given us His name is itself a revelation of the Incarnation. “Jesus” is a very human name, nothing other than the name “Joshua.” It was probably a common name. It still is. But it is also The Name when spoken by the heart of love. Above all names it bears the Savior and He deigns even to dwell on our lips.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


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