NICETAS OF REMESIANA:
And now, beloved, I ought to say a word about the antiquity of the tradition and the utility of vigils. It is easier to begin a work if we keep before our eyes how useful it is. The devotion to vigils is very old. It has been a household tradition among the saints. It was the prophet Isaiah who cried out to the Lord: “My soul has yearned for you in the night. Indeed, my spirit within me seeks you early in the morning.”1
[In monasteries] at the crowing of the rooster their leader comes, and gently touching the sleeper with his foot, rouses them all. For there are none sleeping naked. Then as soon as they have arisen they stand up and sing the prophetic hymns with much harmony and well-composed tunes. And neither harp nor pipe nor other musical instrument utters such sweet melodies as you hear from the singing of these saints in their deep and quiet solitudes. And the songs themselves too are suitable and full of the love of God. “In the night,” they say, “lift up your hands to God. With my soul have I desired you in the night; truly with my spirit within me will I seek you early.”2
GREGORY THE GREAT:
Anyone who has been able to reach out for the truth has been on fire with this love. For this reason David said, “My soul has thirsted for the living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God?” And he counseled us, saying, “Seek his face continually.” And for this reason the prophet said, “My soul has desired you in the night, and with my spirit within my breast I will watch for you in the morning.” And again the church says to the Lord in the Song of Songs, “I have been wounded with love.”
It is right that the soul, after bearing in its heart a wound of love brought on by its burning desire, should reach out for healing at the sight of the doctor. And so, again, it says, “My soul melted when he spoke.” The heart of a person who does not seek the face of his Creator is hardened by his wickedness, because in itself it remains cold. But if it now begins to burn with the desire of following him whom it loves, it runs since the fire of love has melted it. Its desire makes it anxious. Everything that used to please it in the world seems worthless; it finds nothing agreeable outside of its Creator; things that once delighted the heart afterwards become grievously oppressive. Nothing brings it consolation in its sadness as long as the one it desires is not beheld. The heart sorrows. Light itself is loathsome. Scorching fire burns away the rust of sin in the heart. The soul is inflamed as if it were gold, for gold loses its beauty through use, but fire restores its brightness.3
GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS:
For he inclines from severity to indulgence toward those who accept chastisement with fear and who after a slight affliction conceived and are in pain with conversion and bring forth the perfect spirit of salvation. But nevertheless he reserves the dregs, the last drop of his anger, that he may pour it out entire upon those who, instead of being healed by his kindness, grow obdurate, like the hard-hearted Pharaoh, that bitter taskmaster, who is set forth as an example of the power of God over the ungodly.4
- VIGILS OF THE SAINTS 4. McKinion, S. A. (Ed.). (2004). Isaiah 1-39 (p. 171). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILIES ON 1 TIMOTHY 14. McKinion, S. A. (Ed.). (2004). Isaiah 1-39 (p. 171). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- FORTY GOSPEL HOMILIES 25. McKinion, S. A. (Ed.). (2004). Isaiah 1-39 (p. 172). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- ON HIS FATHER’S SILENCE, ORATION 16.4. McKinion, S. A. (Ed.). (2004). Isaiah 1-39 (p. 180). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.