Monday, December 27, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Holy Family, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Sirach 3:2–7, 12–14
Second Reading Colossians 3:12–21 or Colossians 3:12–17
Gospel Matthew 2:13–15, 19–23

For the First and Second Readings, see Holy Family, Year C

St. John Chrysostom on the reasons for the flight into Egypt:
But wherefore, it may be said, is the young Child sent into Egypt? In the first place, the evangelist himself hath mentioned the cause, saying,” That it might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt have I called my Son.” And at the same time beginnings of fair hopes were thenceforth proclaimed before to the world. That is, since Babylon and Egypt, most in the whole earth, were burnt up with the flame of ungodliness, He, signifying from the first that He means to correct and amend both, and inducing men hereby to expect His bounties in regard of the whole world likewise, sent to the one the wise men, the other He Himself visited with His mother. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 8.3, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 51)

St. John Chrysostom on the the faith of St. Joseph:
Now the angel having thus appeared, talks not with Mary, but with Joseph; and what saith he? “Arise, and take the young Child and His mother.” Here, he saith not any more, “thy wife,” but “His mother.” For after that the birth had taken place, and the suspicion was done away, and the husband appeased, thenceforth the angel talks openly, calling neither child nor wife his, but “take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt;” and he mentions the cause of the flight: “For Herod,” saith he, “will seek the young Child’s life.”
‎Joseph, when he had heard these things, was not offended, nether did he say. “The thing is hard to understand: Didst thou not say just now, that He should ‘save His people?’ and now He saves not even Himself: but we must fly, and go far from home, and be a long time away: the facts are contrary to the promise.” Nay, none of these things doth he say (for the man was faithful): neither is he curious about the time of his return; and this though the angel had put it indefinitely thus: “Be thou there until I tell thee.” But nevertheless, not even at this did he shudder, but submits and obeys, undergoing all the trials with joy. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 8.4, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 52)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Christmas, During the Day

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 52:7–10
Second Reading Hebrews 1:1–6
Gospel John 1:1–18 or John 1:1–5, 9–14

St. John Chrysostom--the Gospel brings tidings of peace between God and man:
‎And again Isaiah saith, “How beautiful are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings.” (Isa. lii. 7.) Who would not run, who would not serve in such a cause; to publish the good tidings of peace, peace between God and man, peace, where men have toiled not, but where God hath wrought all? (Chrysostom, Hom. Eph. 24, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 168)

Origen on the Christ, the brightness of the glory of God rendering us capable of seeing God, who is light:
‎‎But since we quoted the language of Paul regarding Christ, where He says of Him that He is “the brightness of the glory of God, and the express figure of His person,” (Heb 1:3) let us see what idea we are to form of this. According to John, “God is light.” The only-begotten Son, therefore, is the glory of this light, proceeding inseparably from (God) Himself, as brightness does from light, and illuminating the whole of creation. For, agreeably to what we have already explained as to the manner in which He is the Way, and conducts to the Father; and in which He is the Word, interpreting the secrets of wisdom, and the mysteries of knowledge, making them known to the rational creation; and is also the Truth, and the Life, and the Resurrection,—in the same way ought we to understand also the meaning of His being the brightness: for it is by its splendour that we understand and feel what light itself is. And this splendour, presenting itself gently and softly to the frail and weak eyes of mortals, and gradually training, as it were, and accustoming them to bear the brightness of the light, when it has put away from them every hindrance and obstruction to vision, according to the Lord’s own precept,” Cast forth the beam out of thine eye,” (Lk 6:42) renders them capable of enduring the splendour of the light, being made in this respect also a sort of mediator between men and the light. (Origen, De princ. 1.2.7, ANF, vol. 4, pg. 248)

Origen--the Son is begotten in the eternal "today" of God:
‎‎[W]hen the words are addressed to Him, “Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee,” (Mk 1:12, Ps 2:7, Heb 1:5) this is spoken to Him by God, with whom all time is to-day, for there is no evening with God, as I consider, and there is no morning, nothing but time that stretches out, along with His unbeginning and unseen life. The day is to-day with Him in which the Son was begotten, and thus the beginning of His birth is not found, as neither is the day of it. (Origen, Comm. Jo. 1.32, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 314)

St. John Chrysostom--not even the prophets saw God as the Son does, who reveals God to us:
‎‎And well did he begin thus, “At sundry times and in divers manners,” for he points out that not even the prophets themselves saw God; nevertheless, the Son saw Him. For the expressions, “at sundry times and in divers manners” are the same as “in different ways.” “For I” (saith He) “have multiplied visions, and used similitudes by the ministry of the Prophets.” (Hos. xii. 10.) Wherefore the excellency consists not in this alone, that to them indeed prophets were sent, but to us the Son; but that none of them saw God, but the Only-begotten Son saw Him. He doth not indeed at once assert this, but by what he says afterwards he establishes it, when he speaks concerning His human nature; “For to which of the Angels said He, Thou art My Son,” (ver. 5), and, “Sit thou on My right hand”? (Ver. 13.) (Chrysostom, Hom. Heb. 1.1, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 366)

St. Gregory of Nyssa--Hebrews 1:3 shows that the Son is eternally begotten:
‎‎“Being,” he says (not becoming), “the brightness of His glory;” (Heb 1:3) so that clearly we may rid ourselves for ever of the blasphemy which lurks in either of those two conceptions; viz., that the Only-begotten can be thought of as Ungenerate (for he says “the brightness of His glory,” the brightness coming from the glory, and not, reversely, the glory from the brightness); or that He ever began to be. For the word “being” is a witness that interprets to us the Son’s continuity and eternity and superiority to all marks of time. (Gregory of Nyssa, Cont. Eun. 1.39, NPNF2, vol. 5, pg. 94)

Origen--Christ the light of the intellectual world:
‎Now the sensible light of the world is the sun, and after it comes very worthily the moon, and the same title may be applied to the stars; but those lights of the world are said in Moses to have come into existence on the fourth day, and as they shed light on the things on the earth, they are not the true light. But the Saviour shines on creatures which have intellect and sovereign reason, that their minds may behold their proper objects of vision, and so he is the light of the intellectual world, that is to say, of the reasonable souls which are in the sensible world, and if there be any beings beyond these in the world from which He declares Himself to be our Saviour. (Origen, Comm. Jo. 1.24, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 311)

St. Augustine--the Word became flesh like our own words take an outward form in speech:
‎‎In what way did He come but this, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”? (Jn 1:14) Just as when we speak, in order that what we nave in our minds may enter through the ear into the mind of the hearer, the word which we have in our hearts becomes an outward sound and is called speech; and yet our thought does not lose itself in the sound, but remains complete in itself, and takes the form of speech without being modified in its own nature by the change: so the Divine Word, though suffering no change of nature, yet became flesh, that He might dwell among us. (Augustine, De doctr. christ. 1.13, NPNF1. vol. 2, pg. 526)

St. Augustine--if all things were made by the Word, the Word himself can not be made:
‎‎Was the Word therefore made by the Father? No. “All things were made by Him.” (Jn 1:3) If by Him all things were made, was He too made by Himself? Do not imagine that He by whom thouhearest all things were made was Himself made among all things. For if He were made Himself, all things were not made by Him, but Himself was made among the rest. You say, “He was made;” what, by Himself? Who can make himself? If then He was made, how by Him were all things made? See, Himself too was made, as you say, not I, for that He was begotten, I do not deny. If then you say that He was made, I ask by what, by whom? By Himself? Then He “was,” before He was made, that He might make Himself. But if all things were made by Him, understand that He was not Himself made. (Augustine, Serm. 118.1, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 465)

St. Augustine on the wondrous exchange of the Incarnation:
‎‎Lo, they are born of God; whereby is it brought to pass that they should be born of God, who were first born of men? Whereby is it brought to pass, whereby? “And the Word was made Flesh, that It might dwell among us.” (Jn 1:14) Wondrous exchange; He made Flesh, they spirit. What is this? What condescension is here, my brethren! Lift up your minds to the hope and comprehension of better things. Give not yourselves up to worldly desires. “Ye have been bought with a Price; “ (1 Co 6:20) for your sakes the Word was made Flesh; for your sakes He who was the Son of God, was made the Son of man: that ye who were the sons of men, might be made sons of God. What was He, what was He made? What were ye, what were ye made? He was the Son of God. What was He made? The Son of man. Ye were the sons of men. What were ye made? The sons of God. He shared with us our evil things, to give us His good things. (Augustine, Serm. 121.5, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 470)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Christmas Dawn

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 62:11–12
Second Reading Titus 3:4–7
Gospel Luke 2:15–20

St. Augustine--in baptism, we recieve the certain hope of salvation:
‎It is true we have not yet risen as Christ has, but we are said to have risen with Him on account of the hope which we have in Him. So again he says: “According to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration.” (Tit 3:5) Evidently what we obtain in the washing of regeneration is not the salvation itself, but the hope of it. And yet, because this hope is certain, we are said to be saved, as if the salvation were already bestowed. (Augustine, Contra Faustum 11.7, NPNF1, vol. 4, pg. 181)

For more on Titus 3:4-7, see Baptism of the Lord, Year C.
For Luke 2:15-20, see Mary, Mother of God.

Readings for Christmas Vigil and Christmas Midnight are the same in all three years and were posted last year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 7:10–14
Second Reading Romans 1:1–7
Gospel Matthew 1:18–24

St. Justin Martyr on prophecy preparing for faith and on the difference between the virgin birth and pagan myths:
‎‎And hear again how Isaiah in express words foretold that He should be born of a virgin; for he spoke thus: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bring forth a son, and they shall say for His name, ‘God with us.’ ” (Is 7:14) For things which were incredible and seemed impossible with men, these God predicted by the Spirit of prophecy as about to come to pass, in order that, when they came to pass, there might be no unbelief, but faith, because of their prediction. But lest some, not understanding the prophecy now cited, should charge us with the very things we have been laying to the charge of the poets who say that Jupiter went in to women through lust, let us try to explain the words. This, then, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive,” signifies that a virgin should conceive without intercourse. For if she had had intercourse with any one whatever, she was no longer a virgin; but the power of God having come upon the virgin, overshadowed her, and caused her while yet a virgin to conceive. (Justin Martyr, 1 Apol. 33, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 174)

St. Irenaeus on the translation of Is. 7:14:
‎‎God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us, giving us the token of the Virgin. But not as some allege, among those now presuming to expound the Scripture, [thus: ] “Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bring forth a son,” (Is 7:14) as Theodotion the Ephesian has interpreted, and Aquila of Pontus, both Jewish proselytes. The Ebionites, following these, assert that He was begotten by Joseph; thus destroying, as far as in them lies, such a marvellous dispensation of God, and setting aside the testimony of the prophets which proceeded from God. For truly this prediction was uttered before the removal of the people to Babylon; that is, anterior to the supremacy acquired by the Medes and Persians. But it was interpreted into Greek by the Jews themselves, much before the period of our Lord’s advent, that there might remain no suspicion that perchance the Jews, complying with our humour, did put this interpretation upon these words. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3.21.1, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 451)

St. Jerome--Death came through Eve, but life came through Mary. Through Christ's birth of a virgin, the gift of continence has been bestwowed richly on women:
‎‎In those days, as I have said, the virtue of continence was found only in men: Eve still continued to travail with children. But now that a virgin has conceived (Is 7:14) in the womb and has borne to us a child of which the prophet says that “Government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called the mighty God, the everlasting Father,” (Is 9:6) now the chain of the curse is broken. Death came through Eve, but life has come through Mary. And thus the gift of virginity has been bestowed most richly upon women, seeing that it has had its beginning from a woman. As soon as the Son of God set foot upon the earth, He formed for Himself a new household there; that, as He was adored by angels in heaven, angels might serve Him also on earth. (Jerome, Ep. 22.21, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 30)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem--Christ's birth from a woman without a man pays a debt of gratitude for Eve's creation from a man without a woman:
‎This debt of gratitude was due to men from womankind: for Eve was begotten of Adam, and not conceived of a mother, but as it were brought forth of man alone. Mary, therefore, paid the debt, of gratitude, when not by man but of herself alone in an immaculate way she conceived of the Holy Ghost by the power of God. (Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Lect. 12.29, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 80)

Tertullian uses Rom. 1:3, 4 in explaining the Incarnation:
‎‎Thus does the apostle also teach respecting His two substances, saying, “who was made of the seed of David; ” (Rom 1:3) in which words He will be Man and Son of Man. “Who was declared to be the Son of God, according to the Spirit; ” (Rom 1:4) in which words He will be God, and the Word—the Son of God. We see plainly the twofold state, which is not confounded, but conjoined in One Person—Jesus, God and Man. (Tertullian, Against Praxeas 27, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 624)

St. Paul mentions Christ's generation according to the flesh not because it preceded his divinity but to lead his hearer from understanding his humanity to understanding his divinity:
‎For our discourse is not, saith he, of any bare man. Such was my reason for adding, “according to the flesh;” as hinting that there is also a Generation of the Same after the Spirit. And why did he begin from that and not from this the higher? It is because that was what Matthew, and Luke, and Mark, began from. For he who would lead men by the hand to Heaven, must needs lead them upwards from below. So too was the actual dispensation ordered. First, that is, they saw Him a man upon earth, and then they understood Him to be God. In the same direction then, as He Himself had framed His teaching, did His disciple also shape out the way which leadeth thither. Therefore the generation according to the flesh is in his language placed first in order, not because it was first, but because he was for leading the hearer from this up to that. (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 1, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 340)

St. Augustine on St. Joseph, the "just man":
‎‎“When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with Child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily;” (Mt. 1:19) for because he knew that she was not with child by him, he thought that she was so to say necessarily an adulteress. “Being a just man,” as the Scripture saith,” and not willing to make her a public example,” (that is, to divulge the matter, for so it is in many copies), “he was minded to put her away privily.” The husband indeed was in trouble, but as being a just man he deals not severely; for so great justice is ascribed to this man, as that he neither wished to keep an adulterous wife, nor could bring himself to punish and expose her. “He was minded to put her away privily,” because he was not only unwilling to punish, but even to betray her; and mark his genuine justice; for he did not wish to spare her, because he had a desire to keep her; for many spare their adulterous wives through a carnal love, choosing to keep them even though adulterous, that they may enjoy them through a carnal desire. But this just man has no wish to keep her, and so does not love in any carnal sort; and yet he does not wish to punish her; and so in his mercy he spares her. How truly just a man is this! He would neither keep an adulteress, lest he should seem to spare her because of an impure affection, and yet he would not punish or betray her. Deservedly indeed was he chosen for the witness of his wife’s virginity: and so he who was in trouble through human infirmity, was assured by Divine authority. (Augustine, Serm. 51.6.9, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 248-249)

St. John Chrysostom on why Christ was not concieved before Mary and Joseph's espousal:
‎And wherefore did she not conceive before her espousal? It was, as I said at first, that what had been done might be concealed awhile, and that the Virgin might escape every evil suspicion. For when he, who had most right of all to feel jealousy, so far from making her a show, or degrading her, is found even receiving and cherishing her after her conception; it was quite clear that, unless he had fully persuaded himself that what was done was of the operation of the Holy Spirit, he would not have kept her with him, and ministered to her in all other things. And most properly hath he said, that “she was ‘found’ with child,” the sort of expression that is wont to be used with respect to things strange, and such as happen beyond all expectation, and are unlooked for. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 4.5, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 22)

See also Christmas Vigil for more on Mt 1:18-25.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Third Sunday of Advent, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 35:1–6a, 10
Second Reading James 5:7–10
Gospel Matthew 11:2–11

St. Gregory of Nyssa--the thirsty wilderness a figure for the soul thirsting for God:
‎‎And where shall we place that oracle of Isaiah, which cries to the wilderness, “Be glad, O thirsty wilderness: let the desert rejoice and blossom as a lily: and the desolate places of Jordan shall blossom and shall rejoice” (Is 35:1, 2) ? For it is clear that it is not to places without soul or sense that he proclaims the good tidings of joy: but he speaks, by the figure of the desert, of the soul that is parched and unadorned, even as David also, when he says, “My soul is unto Thee as a thirsty land,” (Ps 143:6) and, “My soul is athirst for the mighty, for the living God.” (Ps 42:2) (Greg. Nyss. On the Baptism of Christ, NPNF2, vol. 5, pg. 523)

St. Augustine--John the Baptist's greatness due to his both foretelling and seeing Christ:
‎‎‎ So John saw his brother, a brother in the family of Abraham, and from the relationship of Mary and Elisabeth; and the same person he recognised as his Lord and his God, for, as he himself says, he received of His fullness. (Jn 1:6) On account of this vision, among those born of woman, there has arisen no greater than he; (Mt 11:11) because, of all who foretold Christ, he alone saw what many righteous men and prophets desired to see and saw not. He saluted Christ from the womb; (Lk 1:44) he knew Him more certainly from seeing the dove; and therefore, as the Adullamite, he gave testimony by water. (Augustine, Contra Faustum 22.85, NPNF1, vol. 4, pg. 307)

St. John Chrysostom--John sent his disciples to ask if Jesus was the Messiah not because he did not know but in order that they might learn for themselves:
‎‎Now if he had said, “Go ye away unto Him, He is better than I,” he would not have persuaded them, minded as they were not easily to be separated from him, but rather he would have been thought to say it out of modesty, and they would have been the more rivetted to him; or if he had held his peace, then again nothing was gained. What then doth he? He waits to hear from them that Christ is working miracles, and not even so doth he admonish them, nor doth he send all, but some two (whom he perhaps knew to be more teachable than the rest); that the inquiry might be made without suspicion, in order that from His acts they might learn the difference between Jesus and himself. And he saith, Go ye, and say, “Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another? “ (Mt 11:3) (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 36.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, p. 239)

St. Jerome uses Mt 11:11 to argue there is diversity, greater and lesser, in heaven:
‎‎Certainly amongst them that have been born of women, there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist. But the term greater implies others who are less. And (Mt 11:11) “he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” You see then that in heaven one is greatest and another is least, and that among the angels and the invisible creation there is a manifold and infinite diversity. (Jerome, Adv. Jov. 2.27, NPNF2, vol. 2, pg. 408-409)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Second Sunday of Advent, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 11:1–10
Second Reading Romans 15:4–9
Gospel Matthew 3:1–12

St. Clement of Alexandria--the ox and bear symbolize Jew and gentile coming together:
‎‎As, then, the people was precious to the Lord, so also is the entire holy people; he also who is converted from the Gentiles, who was prophesied under the name of proselyte, along with the Jew. For rightly the Scripture says, that “the ox and the bear shall come together.” (Is 11:7) For the Jew is designated by the ox, from the animal under the yoke being reckoned clean, according to the law; for the ox both parts the hoof and chews the cud. And the Gentile is designated by the bear, which is an unclean and wild beast. And this animal brings forth a shapeless lump of flesh, which it shapes into the likeness of a beast solely by its tongue. For he who is convened from among the Gentiles is formed from a beastlike life to gentleness by the word; and, when once tamed, is made clean, just as the ox. (Clem. Alex., Strom. 6.6, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 491)

St. Ambrose on the rod and the flower:
‎‎The flower from the root is the work of the Spirit, that flower, I say, of which it was well prophesied: “A rod shall go forth from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise from his root.” (Is 11:1) The root of Jesse the patriarch is the family of the Jews, Mary is the rod, Christ the flower of Mary, Who, about to spread the good odour of faith throughout the whole world, budded forth from a virgin womb, as He Himself said: “I am the flower of the plain, a lily of the valley.” (Cant. 2:1)
‎‎39. The flower, when cut, keeps its odour, and when bruised increases it, nor if torn off does it lose it; so, too, the Lord Jesus, on the gibbet of the cross, neither failed when bruised, nor fainted when torn; and when He was cut by that piercing of the spear, being made more beautiful by the cob our of the outpoured Blood, He, as it were, grew comely again, not able in Himself to die, and breathing forth upon the dead the gift of eternal life. On this flower, then, of the royal rod the Holy Spirit rested.
‎‎40. A good rod, as some think, is the Flesh of the Lord, which, raising itself from its earthly root to heaven, bore around the whole world the sweet-smelling fruits of religion, the mysteries of the divine generation, pouring grace on the altars of heaven. (Ambrose, De Spir. Sanct. 2.5.38–41, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 119-120)

St. John Chrysostom--the Gentiles bound to glorify God for his great mercy:
‎Ver. 9. “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.”
‎But what he means is this. Those of the Jews would have had promises, even though they were unworthy. But thou hadst not this even, but wast saved from love towards man alone, even if, to put it at the lowest, they too would not have been the better for the promises, unless Christ had come. But yet that he might amalgamate (or temper, κεραση) them and not allow them to rise up against the weak, he makes mention of the promises. But of these he says that it was by mercy alone that they were saved. Hence they are the most bound to glorify God. And a glory it is to God that they be blended together, be united, praise with one mind, bear the weaker, neglect not the member that is broken off. (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 28, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 539)

St. Augustine on baptism "with fire":
‎‎Now as to John’s expression, “with fire,” though tribulation also might be understood, which believers were to suffer for the name of Christ; yet may we reasonably think that the same Holy Spirit is signified also under the name of “fire.” Wherefore when He came it is said, “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” (Acts 2:3) (Augustine, Serm. 71.12.19, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 324)

St. Augustine--God raises up children of Abraham from stones:
‎‎And how did John show that Christ was sent to all nations? When the Jews came to him to be baptized, that they might not pride themselves on the name of Abraham, he said to them, “O generation of vipers, who has proclaimed to you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance;” that is, be humble; for he was speaking to proud people. But whereof were they proud? Of their descent according to the flesh, not of the fruit of imitating their father Abraham. What said he to them? “Say not, We have Abraham for our father: for God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.” (Mt 3:9) Meaning by stones all nations, not on account of their durable strength, as in the case of that stone which the builders rejected, but on account of their stupidity and their foolish insensibility, because they had become like the things which they were accustomed to worship: for they worshipped senseless images, themselves equally senseless. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 9.16, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 68)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: First Sunday of Advent, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 2:1–5
Second Reading Romans 13:11–14
Gospel Matthew 24:37–44

St. Augustine's conversion is prompted by the words of Rom. 13:13, 14:
‎‎I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo, I heard the voice as of a boy or girl, I know not which, coming from a neighbouring house, chanting, and oft repeating, “Take up and read; take up and read.” Immediately my countenance was changed, and I began most earnestly to consider whether it was usual for children in any kind of game to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So, restraining the torrent of my tears, I rose up, interpreting it no other way than as a command to me from Heaven to open the book, and to read the first chapter I should light upon. For I had heard of Antony, that, accidentally coming in whilst the gospel was being read, he received the admonition as if what was read were addressed to him, “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.” (Mt 19:21) And by such oracle was he forthwith converted unto Thee. So quickly I returned to the place where Alypius was sitting; for there had I put down the volume of the apostles, when I rose thence. I grasped, opened, and in silence read that paragraph on which my eyes first fell,—“Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Rom 13:13, 14) No further would I read, nor did I need; for instantly, as the sentence ended,—by a light, as it were, of security infused into my heart,—all the gloom of doubt vanished away. (Augustine, Conf. 8:12.29, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 127-128)

St. John Chrysostom on the armor of light:
‎‎“Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”
‎‎Yes, for the day is calling us to battle-array, and to the fight. Yet fear not at hearing of array and arms. For in the case of the visible suit of armor, to put it on is a heavy and abhorred task. But here it is desirable, and worth being prayed for. For it is of Light the arms are! Hence they will set thee forth brighter than the sunbeam, and giving out a great glistening, and they place thee in security: for they are arms, and glittering do they make thee: for arms of light are they! What then, is there no necessity for thee to fight? yea, needful is it to fight, yet not to be distressed and toil. For it is not in fact war, but a solemn dance and feast-day, such is the nature of the arms, such the power of the Commander. And as the bridegroom goes forth with joyous looks from his chamber, so doth he too who is defended with these arms. For he is at once soldier and bridegroom. But when he says, “the day is at hand,” he does not even allow it to be but near, but puts it even now beside us. (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 24, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 517-518)

John Cassian clarifies that "make no provision for the flesh" does not imply that we should neglect the health of the body:
‎‎For even if one is weak in body, he can attain to a perfect virtue and one equal to that of those who are thoroughly strong and healthy, if with firmness of mind he keeps a check upon the desires and lusts which are not due to weakness of the flesh. For the Apostle says: “And take not care for the flesh in its lusts.” (Rom. 13:14) He does not forbid care for it in every respect: but says that care is not to be taken in regard to its desires and lusts. He cuts away the luxurious fondness for the flesh: he does not exclude the control necessary for life: he does the former, lest through pampering the flesh we should be involved in dangerous entanglements of the desires; the latter lest the body should be injured by our fault and unable to fulfil its spiritual and necessary duties. (John Cassian, De Instit. Coenob. 5.8-9, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 236)

St. John Chrysostom--Our Lord does not tell us when we will return so that we will strive to be ready always:
‎For this intent He tells them not, in order that they may watch, that they may be always ready; therefore He saith, When ye look not for it, then He will come, desiring that they should be anxiously waiting, and continually. in virtuous action.
‎But His meaning is like this: if the common sort of men knew when they were to die, they would surely strive earnestly at that hour.
In order therefore that they may strive, not at that hour only, therefore He tells them not either the common hour, or the hour of each, desiring them to be ever looking for this, that they may be always striving. Wherefore He made the end of each man’s life also uncertain. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 77.2-3, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 465)

St. John Chyrsostom--the certainty of judgment should warn us against taking comfort in its delay:
‎When these things then are done, then also will be the voice of the Archangel shouting and commanding the Angels, and the trumpets, or rather the sound of the trumpet. What trembling then, what fear will possess those that remain upon the earth. For one woman is caught up and another is left behind, and one man is taken, and another is passed over. (Matt. 24:40, 41; Luke 27:34, 35) What will be the state of their souls, when they see some indeed taken up, but themselves left behind? Will not these things be able to shake their souls more terribly than any hell? Let us represent then in word that this is now present. For if sudden death, or earthquakes in cities, and threatenings thus terrify our souls; when we see the earth breaking up, and crowded with all these, when we hear the trumpets, and the voice of the Archangel louder than any trumpet, when we perceive the heaven shriveled up, and God the King of all himself coming nigh—what then will be our souls? Let us shudder, I beseech you, and be frightened as if these things were now taking place. Let us not comfort ourselves by the delay. For when it must certainly happen, the delay profits us nothing. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Thess. 8, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 356)

St. Hilary of Poitiers--ignorance of the hour of the coming of the Son of Man is an advantage:
‎‎He exhorts us to watch continually with unrelaxing faith, and withholds from us the security of certain knowledge, that our minds may be kept on the stretch by the uncertainty of suspense, and while they hasten towards and continually look for the day of His coming, may always watch in hope; and that, though we know the time must come, its very uncertainty may make us careful and vigilant. Thus the Lord says, Therefore be ye also ready, for ye know not what hour the Son of Man shall come; (Mt 24:44) and again, Blessed is that servant whom His lord, when He cometh, shall find so doing. (Mt 24:46) The ignorance is, therefore, a means not to delude, but to encourage in perseverance. It is no loss to be denied a knowledge which it is an advantage not to have, for the security of knowledge might breed negligence of the faith, which now is concealed, while the uncertainty of expectation keeps us continually prepared, even as the master of the house, with the fear of loss before his eyes, watches and guards against the dreaded com ing of the thief, who chooses the time of sleep for his work. (Hilary, De Trin. 9.67, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 178-179)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible Contest

Tim, who reviews Catholic Bibles on his aptly named Catholic Bibles blog is holding a contest to give away an Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament.

I'm shamelessly plugging it as a condition for entry, of course, but--but like a radio host who only advertises what he personally uses and endorses--I will say that I've found his blog to be worth following for information on Catholic Bibles--in all different versions, editions, shapes and sizes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Christ the King, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading 2 Samuel 5:1–3
Second Reading Colossians 1:12–20
Gospel Luke 23:35–43

St. Augustine on the "Son of [the Father's] Love" (filii dilectionis suae, τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ):
‎‎“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness.and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His own love.” (Col. 1:13) He did not say, “of His own Son.” If He had so said, He would have said it most truly, just as He did say it most truly, because He has often said it; but He says, “the Son of His own love.” Therefore He is the Son also of the Holy Spirit, if there is in that Trinity no love in God except the Holy Spirit. And if this is most absurd, it remains that the Holy Spirit is not alone therein love, but is specially so called for the reasons I have sufficiently set forth; and that the words, “Son of His own love,” mean nothing else than His own beloved Son,—the Son, in short, of His own substance. For the love in the Father, which is in His ineffably simple nature, is nothing else than His very nature and substance itself,—as we have already often said, and are not ashamed of often repeating. And hence the “Son of His love,” is none other than He who is born of His substance. (Augustine, De Trin. 15.19.37, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 220)

St. John Chrysostom on Col. 1:13:
‎The whole is of Him, the giving both of these things and those; for nowhere is any achievement of ours. “From the power of darkness,” he saith, that is, of error, the dominion of the devil. He said not “darkness,” but “power”; for it had great power over us, and held us fast. For it is grievous indeed even to be under the devil at all, but to be so “with power,” this is far more grievous. “And translated us,” he saith, “into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” Not then so as to deliver man from darkness only, did He show His love toward him. A great thing indeed is it to have delivered from darkness even; but to have brought into a kingdom too, is a far greater. See then how manifold the gift, that he hath delivered us who lay in the pit; in the second place, that He hath not only delivered us, but also hath translated us into a kingdom. (Chrysostom, Hom. Col. 2, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 266)

For more on Col. 1:12-20, see also under Ordinary Time 15, Year C.

St. Augustine--the good thief and the necessity of baptism for salvation:
‎‎‎That the place of baptism is sometimes supplied by martyrdom is supported by an argument by no means trivial, which the blessed Cyprian adduces (Cyprian, Ep. 72.22) from the thief, to whom, though he was not baptized, it was yet said, “To-day shall thou be with me in Paradise.” (Lk 23:43) On considering which, again and again, I find that not only martyrdom for the sake of Christ may supply what was wanting of baptism, but also faith and conversion of heart, if recourse may not be had to the celebration of the mystery of baptism for want of time. For neither was that thief crucified for the name of Christ, but as the reward of his own deeds; nor did he suffer because he believed, but he believed while suffering. It was shown, therefore, in the case of that thief, how great is the power, even without the visible sacrament of baptism, of what the apostle says, “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom 10:10) But the want is supplied invisibly only when the administration of baptism is prevented, not by contempt for religion, but by the necessity of the moment. (Augustine, De bapt. 4.22.30, NPNF1, vol. 4, pg. 460)

St. Augustine--Christ in respect to his Godhead, never withrdrew from paradise:
‎‎For when He said to the man that was expiating his crimes on the tree, and making confession unto salvation, “Today shall thou be with me in paradise,” (Lk 23:43) in respect to His human nature His own soul was on that very day to be in hell, His flesh in the sepulchre; but as respected His Godhead He was certainly also in paradise. And therefore the soul of the thief, absolved from his by-gone crimes, and already in the blessed enjoyment of His grace, although it could not be everywhere as He was, yet could on that very day be also with Him in paradise, from which He, who is always everywhere, had not withdrawn. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 111.2, NPNF1. vol. 7, pg. 413-414)

St. Gregory of Nyssa--Christ shows his universal sovereignty by declaring that the thief would join him in paradise:
‎‎When the dying thief besought Him to remember him, He showed His universal sovereignty by saying, “To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.” (Lk 23:43) If then not even in the time of His Passion He is separated from His authority, where can heresy possibly discern the subordination to authority of the King of glory? (Greg. Nyss., Cont. Eun. 2.11, NPNF2, vol. 5, pg. 122)

St. Jerome--Christ saves the good thief to show that reprentance is never too late:
‎‎Christ Himself brought the robber from the cross to paradise, (Lk 23:43) and, to show that repentance is never too late, He turned a murderer’s death into a martyrdom. (Jerome, Ep. 16.1, NPNF2, vo.. 6, pg. 20)

St. Hilary of Poitiers--Hell could have no power over the divine nature of Christ which rules the world:
‎‎Could you believe that He feared the depths of the abyss, the scorching flames, or the pit of avenging punishment, when you listen to His words to the thief on the cross, Verily, I say unto thee, To-day shall thou be with Me in Paradise? (Lk 23:43) Such a nature with such power could not be shut up within the confines of the nether world, nor even subjected to fear of it. When He descended to Hades, He was never absent from Paradise (just as He was always in Heaven when He was preaching on earth as the Son of Man), but promised His martyr (i.e. the thief on the cross) a home there, and held out to him the transports of perfect happiness. Bodily fear cannot touch Him Who reaches indeed down as far as Hades, but by the power of His nature is present in all things everywhere. As little can the abyss of Hell and the terrors of death lay hold upon the nature which rules the world, boundless in the freedom of its spiritual power, confident of the raptures of Paradise; for the Lord Who was to descend to Hades, was also to dwell in Paradise. (Hilary, De Trin. 10.34, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 190)

Pitching the Catena Aurea ...

... over at the Logos blog.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Malachi 3:19–20a
Second Reading 2 Thessalonians 3:7–12
Gospel Luke 21:5–19

St. Cyprian on Christ, the Sun of Righteousness:
‎‎Also the prophet Malachi testifies that He is called the Sun, when he says, “But to you that fear the name of the Lord shall the Sun of righteousness arise, and there is healing in His wings.” (Mal. 4:2) But if in the Holy Scriptures the true sun and the true day is Christ, there is no hour excepted for Christians wherein God ought not frequently and always to be worshipped; so that we who are in Christ—that is, in the true Sun and the true Day—should be instant throughout the entire day in petitions, and should pray; and when, by the law of the world, the revolving night, recurring in its alternate changes, succeeds, there can be no harm arising from the darkness of night to those who pray, because the children of light have the day even in the night. For when is he without light who has light in his heart? or when has not he the sun and the day, whose Sun and Day is Christ? (Cyprian, De orat. Dom. 35, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 457)

St. Basil--the sinner, deprived of the Sun of Righteousness is worse off than the blind man:
‎‎If the sun, subject to corruption, is so beautiful, so grand. so rapid in its move-meat, so invariable in its course; if its grandeur is in such perfect harmony with and due proportion to the universe: if, by the beauty of its nature, it shines like a brilliant eye in the middle of creation; if finally, one cannot tire of contemplating it, what will be the beauty of the Sun of Righteousness? (Mal. 4:2) If the blind man suffers from not seeing the material sun, what a deprivation is it for the sinner not to enjoy the true light? (Basil, Hexaem. 6.1, NPNF2, vol. 8, pg. 82)

St. Cyprian on the help granted by God to Christians under persecution:
‎‎Nor is it difficult for God to open the mouth of a man devoted to Himself, and to inspire constancy and confidence in speech to His confessor; since in the book of Numbers He made even a she-ass to speak against the prophet Balaam. Wherefore in persecutions let no one think what danger the devil is bringing in, but let him indeed consider what help God affords; nor let human mischief overpower the mind, but let divine protection strengthen the faith; since every one, according to the Lord’s promises and the deservings of his faith, receives so much from God’s help as he thinks that he receives. Nor is there anything which the Almighty is not able to grant, unless the failing faith of the receiver be deficient and give way. (Cyprian, Ad Fort. 10, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 502)

St. Gregory the Great--patience is the gaurdian of our state:
‎ For victory over cities is a less thing, because that which is subdued is without; but a far greater thing is that which is conquered by patience, since the mind itself is by itself overcome, and subjects itself to itself, when patience compels it to bridle itself within. Let the impatient hear what the Truth says to His elect; In your patience ye shall possess your souls (Luke xxi. 19). For we are so wonderfully made that reason possesses the soul, and the soul the body. But the soul is ousted from its right of possession of the body, if it is not first possessed by reason. Therefore the Lord pointed out patience as the guardian of our state, in that He taught us to possess ourselves in it. (Gregory the Great, Pastor. 3.9, NPNF2, vol. 12, pg. 30)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Happened between Augustine and Martin Luther?

I've got a post up on my employer's blog in which I discuss the Middle Ages and pitch some things we sell that are useful for studying them.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading 2 Maccabees 7:1–2, 9–14
Second Reading 2 Thessalonians 2:16–3:5
Gospel Luke 20:27–38 or Luke 20:27, 34–38

St. John Chrysostom--we need divine assistance to direct our hearts to the love of God:
‎“But the Lord,” he says, “direct your hearts into the love of God.” For there are many things that turn us aside from love, and there are many paths that draw us away from thence. In the first place the path of Mammon, laying, as it were, certain shameless hands upon our soul, and tenaciously holding it in its grasp, draws and drags us thence even against our will. Then vainglory and often afflictions and temptations, turn us aside. For this reason we need, as a certain wind, the assistance of God, that our sail may be impelled, as by some strong wind, to the love of God. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Thess. 5, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 393)

Tertullian on how the saints at the Resurrection will be like the angels:
‎‎“They shall be,” says He, “equal unto the angels.” (Lk 10:35; Mt 23:30) As by not marrying, because of not dying, so, of course, by not having to yield to any like necessity of our bodily state; even as the angels, too, sometimes. were “equal unto” men, by eating and drinking, and submitting their feet to the washing of the bath—having clothed themselves in human guise, without i the loss of their own intrinsic nature. If therefore angels, when they became as men, submitted in their own unaltered substance of spirit to be treated as if they were flesh, why shall not men in like manner, when they become “equal unto the angels,” undergo in their unchanged substance of flesh the treatment of spiritual beings, no more exposed to the usual solicitations of the flesh in their angelic garb, than were the angels once to those of the spirit when encompassed in human form? We shall not therefore cease to continue in the flesh, because we cease to be importuned by the usual wants of the flesh; just as the angels ceased not therefore to remain in their spiritual substance, because of the suspension of their spiritual incidents. Lastly, Christ said not, “They shall be angels,” in order not to repeal their existence as men; but He said, “They shall be equal unto the angels, that He might preserve their humanity unimpaired. When He ascribed an angelic likeness to the flesh,He took not from it its proper substance. (Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh 62, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 593)

Tertullian--that there is no marriage after the Resurrection does not mean that no bond remains with a departed spouse:
‎‎But if we believe the resurrection of the dead, of course we shall be bound to them with whom we are destined to rise, to render an account the one of the other. “But if ’in that age they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but will be equal to angels,’ (See Mt 22:30, Mk 12:25, Lk 10:35, 36) is not the fact that there will be no restitution of the conjugal relation a reason why we shall not be bound to our departed consorts? ”Nay, but the more shall we be bound (to them), because we are destined to a better estate—destined (as we are) to rise to a spiritual consortship, to recognise as well our own selves as them who are ours. Else how shall we sing thanks to God to eternity, if there shall remain in us no sense and memory of this debt; if we shall be reformed in substance, not in consciousness? Consequently, we who shall be with God shall be together; since we shall all be with the one God. (Tertullian, On Monogamy 10, ANF, vol. 4, pg. 67)

St. Gregory of Nyssa argues that the condition of before the Fall, as there will be at the Resurrection, there was no marriage:
‎Now the resurrection promises us nothing else than the restoration of the fallen to their ancient state; for the grace we look for is a certain return to the first life, bringing back again to Paradise him who was cast out from it. If then the life of those restored is closely related to that of the angels, it is clear that the life before the transgression was a kind of angelic life, and hence also our return to the ancient condition of our life is compared to the angels. Yet while, as has been said, there is no marriage among them, the armies of the angels are in countless myriads; for so Daniel declared in his visions: so, in the same way, if there had not come upon us as the result of sin a change for the worse, and removal from equality with the angels, neither should we have needed marriage that we might multiply but whatever the mode of increase in the angelic nature is (unspeakable and inconceivable by human conjectures, except that it assuredly exists), it would have operated also in the case of men, who were “made a little lower than the angels,” (Ps 8:6) to increase mankind to the measure determined by its Maker. (Greg. Nyss., De hom. opfi. 17.2, NPNF2, vol. 5, pg. 407)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Wisdom of Solomon 11:22–12:2
Second Reading 2 Thessalonians 1:11–2:2
Gospel Luke 19:1–10

St. Clement of Alexandria--God cannot hate what he wills to exist:
‎‎‎“For there is nothing which the Lord hates.” (Wisdom 11:24) For assuredly He does not hate anything, and yet wish that which He hates to exist Nor does He wish anything not to exist, and yet become the cause of existence to that which He wishes not to exist. Nor does He wish anything not to exist which yet exists. If, then, the Word hates anything, He does not wish it to exist. But nothing exists, the cause of whose existence is not supplied by God. Nothing, then, is hated by God, nor yet by the Word. For both are one—that is, God. For He has said, “In the beginning the Word was in God, and the Word was God.” (Jn 1:1) If then He hates none of the things which He has made, it follows that He loves them. Much more than the rest, and with reason, will He love man, the noblest of all objects created by Him, and a God-loving being. Therefore God is loving; consequently the Word is loving. (Clem. Alex., Paed. 1.8, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 225)

St. Augustine--God loves what he has created in us, but hates our sins, which are our own:
‎‎He, therefore. had love toward us even when we were practising enmity against Him and working iniquity; and yet to Him it is said with perfect truth, “Thou hatest, O Lord, all workers of iniquity.” (Ps. 5:5) Accordingly, in a wonderful and divine manner, even when He hated us, He loved us; for He hated us, in so far as we were not what He Himself had made; and because our own iniquity had not in every part consumed His work, He knew at once both how, in each of us, to hate what we had done, and to love what He had done. And this, indeed, may be understood in the case of all regarding Him to whom it is truly said, “Thou hatest nothing that Thou hast made.” (Wisdom 11:25) For He would never have wished anything that He hated to exist, nor would aught that the Omnipotent had not wished exist at all, were it not that in what He hated there was also something that He loved. For He justly hateth and reprobateth vice as utterly repugnant to the principle of His procedure, yet He loveth even in the persons of the vitiated what is susceptible either of His own beneficence through healing, or of His judgment by condemnation. In this way God at the same time hateth nothing of what He has made; for as the Creator of natures, and not of vices, it was not He who made the evil that He hateth; and of these same evils, all is good that He really doeth, either by mercifully healing them, or by judicially regulating them. (Augustine, Tr. in ev. Joan. 110.6, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 411)

St. John Chrysostom on how Christ is glorified in us and we in him:
‎How is He glorified in us? Because we prefer nothing before Him. How are we glorified in Him? Because we have received power from Him, so that we do not at all yield to the evils that are brought upon us. For when temptation happens, at the same time God is glorified, and we too. For they glorify Him, because He has so nerved us; they admire us, because we have rendered ourselves worthy. And all these things are done by the grace of God. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Thess. 3, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 385)

St. Cyprian of Carthage--they are children of Abraham who give alms like Zacchaeus:
‎‎In fine, He calls those the children of Abraham whom He sees to be laborious in aiding and nourishing the poor. For when Zacchaeus said, “Behold, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have done any wrong to any man, I restore fourfold,” Jesus answered and said, “That salvation has this day come to this house, for that he also is a son of Abraham.” (Lk 19:8, 9) For if Abraham believed in God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness, certainly he who gives alms according to God’s precept believes in God, and he who has the truth of faith maintains the fear of God; moreover, he who maintains the fear of God considers God in showing mercy to the poor. (Cyprian, De op. et eleem. 8, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 478)

St. Bede the Venerable--Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham because he imitates his faith:
Zacchaeus is called the son of Abraham, not because he was born of Abraham’s seed, but because he imitates his faith, that as Abraham left his country and his father’s house, so he abandoned all his goods in giving them to the poor. And He well says, “He also,” to declare that not only those who had lived justly, but those who are raised up from a life of injustice, belong to the sons of promise. (ad loc. in Cat. Aur. 3.2, pg. 627)

St. Gregory the Great--those who, like Zacchaeus chose what is foolish in the eyes of the world contemplate most closely the wisdom of God:
Or because the sycamore is from its name called the foolish fig, the little Zacchaeus gets up into the sycamore and sees the Lord, for they who humbly choose the foolish things of this world are those who contemplate most closely the wisdom of God. For what is more foolish in this world than not to seek for what is lost, to give our possessions to robbers, to return not injury for injury? However, by this wise foolishness, the wisdom of God is seen, not yet really as it is, but by the light of contemplation. (Moral. 27.46 in Cat. Aur. 3.2, pg. 629)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Sirach 35:12–14, 16–18
Second Reading 2 Timothy 4:6–8, 16–18
Gospel Luke 18:9–14

St. John Chrysostom--we are called, as Paul, to offer ourselves as a pure sacrifice:
‎For if they that offered the sacrifices of old were bid to look on every side, and were not permitted to offer an animal “that hath anything superfluous or lacking, or is scurvy, or scabbed” (Lev. xxii. 22, Lev. 22:23), much more must we, who offer not senseless animals, but ourselves, exhibit more strictness, and be pure in all respects, that we also may be able to say as did Paul, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” (2 Tim. iv. 6.) For he was purer than any sacrifice, and so he speaks of himself as “ready to be offered.” But this will be brought about if we kill the old man, if we mortify our members that are upon the earth, if we crucify the world unto ourselves. (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 20, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 497)

St. John Chrysostom on fighting the good fight:
‎“A good fight,” he says, therefore do thou engage in it. But is that a good fight, where there are imprisonment, chains, and death? Yea, he says for it is fought in the cause of Christ, and great crowns are won in it. “The good fight”! There is no worthier than this contest. This crown is without end. This is not of olive leaves. It has not a human umpire. It has not men for spectators. The theater is crowded with Angels. There men labor many days, and suffer hardships, and for one hour they receive the crown, and immediately all the pleasure passes away. But here far otherwise, it continues for ever in brightness, glory, and honor. Henceforth we ought to rejoice. For I am entering on my rest, I am leaving the race. Thou hast heard that “it is better to depart and to be with Christ.” (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Tim. 9, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 510)

St. Cyprian of Carthage--the publican is justified because he trusts not in his own innocence:
‎And let not the worshipper, beloved brethren, be ignorant in what manner the publican prayed with the Pharisee in the temple. Not with eyes lifted up boldly to heaven, nor with hands proudly raised; but beating his breast, and testifying to the sins shut up within, he implored the help of the divine mercy. And while the Pharisee was pleased with himself, this man who thus asked, the rather deserved to be sanctified, since he placed the hope of salvation not in the confidence of his innocence, because there is none who is innocent; but confessing his sinfulness he humbly prayed, and He who pardons the humble heard the petitioner. (Cyprian, De orat. dom. 6, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 449)

St. Augustine--the Pharisee is condemned becauser he has no desire for further righteousness:
‎He wished, indeed, for noaddition to his own righteousness; but yet, by giving thanks to God, he confessed that all he had he had received from Him. Notwithstanding, he was not approved, both because he asked for no further food of righteousness, as if he were already filled, and because he arrogantly preferred himself to the publican, who was hungering and thirsting after righteousness. (Augustine, De pecc. merit. et remiss. 2.5.6, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 46)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Exodus 17:8–13
Second Reading 2 Timothy 3:14–4:2
Gospel Luke 18:1–8


Tertullian--Moses' hands extended prefigured Christ's hands extended on the Cross:
‎‎But, to come now to Moses, why, I wonder, did he merely at the time when Joshua was battling against Amalek, pray sitting with hands expanded, when, in circumstances so critical, he ought rather, surely, to have commended his prayer by knees bended, and hands beating his breast, and a face prostrate on the ground; except it was that there, where the name of the Lord Jesus was the theme of speech—destined as He was to enter the lists one day singly against the devil—the figure of the cross was also necessary, (that figure) through which Jesus was to win the victory? (See Ex. 17:8-16 and comp. Col. 2:14, 15) (Tertullian, Adv. Judaeos 10, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 165)

St. Clement of Alexandria--nothing is capable of assimilating man to God as His Word:
‎‎But godliness, that makes man as far as can be like God, designates God as our suitable teacher, who alone can worthily assimilate man to God. This teaching the apostle knows as truly divine. “Thou, O Timothy,” he says, “from a child hast known the holy letters, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15) For truly holy are those letters that sanctify and deify; and the writings or volumes that consist of those holy letters and syllables, the same apostle consequently calls “inspired of God, being profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) No one will be so impressed by the exhortations of any of the saints, as he is by the words of the Lord Himself, the lover of man. For this, and nothing but this, is His only work—the salvation of man. (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Heathen 9, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 196)

St. John Chrysostom on the wisdom given by the Scriptures:
‎‎‎And speaking of the holy Scriptures, he has added, “Which are able to make thee wise,” that is, they will not suffer thee to have any foolish feeling, such as most men have. For he who knows the Scriptures as he ought, is not offended at anything that happens; he endures all things manfully, referring them partly to faith, and to the incomprehensible nature of the divine dispensation, and partly knowing reasons for them, and finding examples in the Scriptures. Since it is a great sign of knowledge not to be curious about everything, nor to wish to know all things. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Tim. 8, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 507)

St. John Damascene on the profitableness of Scripture:
‎‎All Scripture, then, is given by inspiration of God and is also assuredly profitable. (2 Tim. 3:16) Wherefore to search the Scriptures is a work most fair and most profitable for souls. For just as the tree planted by the channels of waters, so also the soul watered by the divine Scripture is enriched and gives fruit in its season, (Ps. 1:3) viz. orthodox belief, and is adorned with evergreen leafage, I mean, actions pleasing to God. For through the Holy Scriptures we are trained to action that is pleasing to God, and untroubled contemplation. For in these we find both exhortation to every virtue and dissuasion from every vice. (Damascene, De Fide Orth. 4.17, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 89)

St. Hippolytus interprets the parable of the unjust judge as speaking of the Antichrist:
‎‎By the unrighteous judge, who fears not God, neither regards man, he means without doubt Antichrist, as he is a son of the devil and a vessel of Satan. For when he has the power, he will begin to exalt himself against God, neither in truth fearing God, nor regarding the Son of God, who is the Judge of all. And in saying that there was a widow in the city, he refers to Jerusalem itself, which is a widow indeed, forsaken of her perfect, heavenly spouse, God. She calls Him her adversary, and not her Saviour. (Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist 57, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 216)

St. Cyprian applies Our Lord's question about whether he would find faith on earth to his own times:
‎‎But in us unanimity is diminished in proportion as liberality of working is decayed. Then they used to give for sale houses and estates; and that they might lay up for themselves treasures in heaven, presented to the apostles the price of them, to be distributed for the use of the poor. But now we do not even give the tenths from our patrimony; and while our Lord bids us sell, we rather buy and increase our store. Thus has the vigour of faith dwindled away among us; thus has the strength of believers grown weak. And therefore the Lord, looking to our days, says in His Gospel, “When the Son of man cometh, think you that He shall find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:18) We see that what He foretold has come to pass. (Cyprian, De unit. eccl. 26, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 429)

St. Augustine on the parable of the unjust judge:
... as of that “judge who neither feared God, nor regarded man,” (Lk 18:2) and yet when a certain widow besought him day by day, overcome by her importunity, he gave her that which he could not in kindness give her, against his will. But our Lord Jesus Christ, who is in the midst of us a Petitioner, with God a Giver, would not surely exhort us so strongly to ask, if He were not willing to give. Let then the slothfulness of men be put to shame; He is more willing to give, than we to receive; He is more willing to show mercy, than we to be delivered from misery; and doubtless if we shall not be delivered, we shall abide in misery. For the exhortation He giveth us, He giveth only for our own sakes. (Augustine, Serm. 105.1.1, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 431)

St. Augustine on the interelation of faith and prayer:
‎‎ He added and said, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man shall come, thinkest thou that He shall find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8) If faith fail, prayer perishes. For who prays for that which he does not believe? Whence also the blessed Apostle, when he exhorted to prayer, said, “Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:13) And in order to show that faith is the fountain of prayer, he went on and said, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” (Rom. 10:14) So then that we may pray, let us believe; and that this same faith whereby we pray fail not, let us pray. Faith pours out prayer, and the pouring out of prayer obtains the strengthening of faith. Faith, I say, pours out prayer, the pouring out of prayer obtains strengthening even for faith itself. (Augustine, Serm. 115.1, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 454)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading 2 Kings 5:14–17
Second Reading 2 Timothy 2:8–13
Gospel Luke 17:11–19

St. Irenaeus--the cleansing of Naaman prefigures our cleansing from sin in baptism:
‎‎“And dipped himself,” says [the Scripture], “seven times in Jordan.” (2 Kgs 5:14) It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [it served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions; being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: “Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Jn 3:5) (Irenaeus, Fragments, 34, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 574)

St. John Chrysostom--only cowardice and unbelief can bind our tongues from proclaiming the Word:
‎“But the word of God is not bound.” That is, if we were soldiers of this world, and waged an earthly warfare, the chains that confine our hands would avail. But now God has made us such that nothing can subdue us. For our hands are bound, but not our tongue, since nothing can bind the tongue but cowardice and unbelief alone; and where these are not, though you fasten chains upon us, the preaching of the Gospel is not bound. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Tim. 4, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 489)

St. John Chrysystom--we die with Christ in baptism and in our sufferings:
‎‎But how are we “dead with Him”? This death he means both of that in the Laver, and that in sufferings. For he says, “Bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus” (2 Cor. iv. 10); and, “We are buried with Him by baptism into death” (Rom. vi. 4); and, “Our old man is crucified with Him”; and, “We have been planted together in the likeness of His death.” (Rom. vi. 5, Rom. 6.) But he also speaks here of death by trials: and that more especially, for he was also suffering trials when he wrote it. And this is what he says, “If we have suffered death on His account, shall we not live on His account? This is not to be doubted. ‘If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him,’ ” not absolutely, we shall reign, but “if we suffer,” showing that it is not enough to die once, (the blessed man himself died daily,) but there was need of much patient endurance; and especially Timothy had need of it. For tell me not, he says, of your first sufferings, but that you continue to suffer. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Tim. 5, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 492)

Theophylact on the ten lepers:
We may gather from this that a man is not one whit hindered from pleasing God because he comes from a cursed race, only let him bear in his heart an honest purpose. Further, let not him that is born of saints boast himself, for the nine who were Israelites were ungrateful; and hence it follows, And Jesus answering him said. Were there not ten cleansed? (Theophylact in Cat. Aur. 3.587)

St. Augustine--the Old Testament priesthood prefigures the priesthood of the Church:
Now we find that of those upon whom our Lord bestowed bodily mercies, not one did He send to the priests, save the lepers, for the Jewish priesthood was a figure of that priesthood which is in the Church. All vices our Lord corrects and heals by His own power working inwardly in the conscience, but the teaching of infusion by means of the Sacrament, or of catechizing by word of mouth, was assigned to the Church. (Augustine, de Quest. Ev. 2.40 in Cat. Aur. 3. 588)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Habakkuk 1:2–3, 2:2–4
Second Reading 2 Timothy 1:6–8, 13–14
Gospel Luke 17:5–10

St. Augustine--we only see our good by faith, so we must live by faith:
‎‎And thus it is written, “The just lives by faith,” (Hab. 2:4) for we do not as yet see our good, and must therefore live by faith; neither have we in ourselves power to live rightly, but can do so only if He who has given us faith to believe in His help do help us when we believe and pray. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 19.4.1, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 401)

St. John Chrysostom on recieving the Spirit of power and love:
That is, we did not receive the Spirit, that we should shrink from exertion, but that we may speak with boldness. For to many He gives a spirit of fear, as we read in the wars of the Kings. "A spirit of fear fell upon them." (Ex. 25:16?) That is, he infused terror into them. But to thee He has given, on the contrary, a spirit of power, and of love toward Himself. This, then, is of grace, and yet not merely of grace, but when we have first performed our own parts. For the Spirit that maketh us cry, "Abba, Father," inspires us with love both towards Him, and towards our neighbor, that we may love one another. For love arises from power, and from not fearing. For nothing is so apt to dissolve love as fear, and a suspicion of treachery. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Tim. 1, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 477)

John Cassian--faith is a gift that we must pray for:
‎‎But so thoroughly did the Apostles realize that everything which concerns salvation was given them by the Lord, that they even asked that faith itself should be granted from the Lord, saying: “Add to us faith” (Lk 17:5) as they did not imagine that it could be gained by free will, but believed that it would be bestowed by the free gift of God. (Cassian, Collat. 1.3.16, NPNP2, vol. 11, pg. 327)

St. Augustine--the Apostles knew of their need for faith and of whom to ask it:
‎‎For [the Apostles] themselves, as mindful of their own weakness, said to Him, as we read in a certain place in the Gospel, “Lord, increase our faith. (Lk 17:5) Lord,” say they, “increase our faith.” The knowing that they had a deficiency, was the first advantage; a greater happiness still, to know who it was of whom they were asking. “Lord,” say they, “increase our faith.” See, if they did not bring their hearts as it were to the fountain, and knocked that that might be opened to them, out of which they might fill them. For He would that men should knock at Him, not that He might repel those that knock, but that He might exercise those who long. (Augustine, Serm. 80.1, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 349)

St. John Chrysostom--all that we do is merely toward payment of a debt:
‎‎For on the part of the servant the thing done was but a debt after all, if it had been done. For all things that we do, we do towards the payment of a debt. And this is why Himself said, “When ye have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10.) If then we display charity, if we give our goods to them that need, we are fulfilling a debt; and that not only in that it was He who first began the acts of goodness, but because it is His goods that we are distributing if we ever do give. (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 7, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 382)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Amos 6:1a, 4–7
Second Reading 1 Timothy 6:11–16
Gospel Luke 16:19–31

St. Augustine examines Amos 6 as an example of the eloquence of the Scriptures:
‎‎When, then, this rustic, or quondam rustic prophet, was denouncing the godless, the proud, the luxurious, and therefore the most neglectful of brotherly love, he called aloud, saying: “Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, who are heads and chiefs of the people, entering with pomp into the house of Israel! Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines, and to all the best kingdoms of these: is their border greater than your border? Ye that are set apart for the day of evil, and that come near to the seat of oppression; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch yourselves upon couches that eat the lamb of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the herd; that chant to the sound of the viol. They thought that they had instruments of music like David; drinking wine in bowls, and anointing themselves with the costliest ointment: and they were not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” (Amos 6:1-6, Vulgate) Suppose those men who, assuming to be themselves learned and eloquent, despise our prophets as untaught and unskillful of speech, had been obliged to deliver a message like this, and to men such as these, would they have chosen to express themselves in any respect differently—those of them, at least, who would have shrunk from raving like madmen? (Augustine, De doctr. christ. 4.7.16-21, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 580)

St. Gregory of Nyssa--the Son also has immortality and dwells in light:
‎‎Accordingly he who predicates “unendingness” of the one and only God, and does not include the Son in the assertion of “unendingness” and “eternity,” maintains by such a proposition, that He Whom he thus contrasts with tire eternal and unending is perishable and temporary. But we, even when we are told that God “only hath immortality (1 Tim. 6:16),” understand by “immortality” the Son. For life is immortality, and the Lord is that life, Who said, “I am the Life (Jn 14:6).” And if He be said to dwell “in the light that no man can approach unto (1 Tim. 6:16),” again we make no difficulty in understanding that the true Light, unapproachable by falsehood, is the Only-begotten, in Whom we learn from the Truth itself that the Father is (Jn 14:11). Of these opinions let the reader choose the more devout, whether we are to think of the Only-begotten in a manner worthy of the Godhead, or to call Him, as heresy prescribes, perishable and temporary. (Greg. Nyss., Cont. Eun. 2.4, NPNF2, vol. 5, pg. 105)

St. John Chrysostom on 1 Tim. 16:12:
‎Ver. 12. “Fight the good fight.”
‎Here he commends his boldness and manliness, that before all he confidently “made profession,” and he reminds him of his early instruction.
‎“Lay hold on eternal life.”
‎There is need not only of profession, but of patience also to persevere in that profession, and of vehement contention, and of numberless toils, that you be not overthrown. For many are the stumbling-blocks, and impediments, therefore the way is “strait and narrow.” (Matt. 6:14.) It is necessary therefore to be self-collected, and well girt on every side. All around appear pleasures attracting the eyes of the soul. Those of beauty, of wealth, of luxury, of indolence, of glory, of revenge, of power, of dominion, and these are all fair and lovely in appearance, and able to captivate those who are unsteady, and who do not love the truth. For truth has but a severe and uninviting countenance. And why? Because the pleasures that she promises are all future, whereas the others hold out present honors and delights, and repose; though all are false and counterfeit. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Tim 17, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 469)

St. Jerome--our common humanity with the poor and the sick:
‎‎ I know of many wealthy and devout persons who, unable to overcome their natural repugnance to such sights [of disease and poverty], perform this work of mercy by the agency of others, giving money instead of personal aid. I do not blame them and am far from construing their weakness of resolution into a want of faith. While however I pardon such squeamishness, I extol to the skies the enthusiastic zeal of a mind that is above it. A great faith makes little of such trifles. But I know how terrible was the retribution which fell upon the proud mind of the rich man clothed in purple for not having helped Lazarus. (Lk 16:19-24) The poor wretch whom we despise, whom we cannot so much as look at, and the very sight of whom turns our stomachs, is human like ourselves, is made of the same clay as we are, is formed out of the same elements. All that he suffers we too may suffer. Let us then regard his wounds as though they were our own, and then all our insensibility to another’s suffering will give way before our pity for ourselves. (Jerome, Ep. 77.6, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 160)

St. John Chrysostom on the fate of the rich man:
‎‎“How then,” saith some one, “do the wicked grow rich, how the unjust and impure, plunderers and covetous?” Not by God’s giving; (away with the thought!) but by plundering, and taking more than their due.33 “And how doth God allow them?” As He allowed that rich man, reserving him for greater punishment. (Luke 16:25.) Hear what (Abraham) saith to him; “Son, thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” Therefore that we also come not to hear that voice, by living softly and idly, and gathering together for ourselves many sins, let us choose the true riches and right wisdom, that we may obtain the promised good things; to which may we all arrive, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen. (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 43.2, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 157)

St. Augustine on Dives and Lazarus:
‎‎Therefore have I said with true reason, “Live well, that ye die not ill,” that ye die not as that rich man died. Nothing proves an evil death, but the time after death. On the other hand, look at that poor man; not with the eyes, for so ye will err; let faith look at him, let the heart see him. Set him before your eyes lying on the ground, “full of sores, and the dogs” coming and “licking his sores.” Now when ye recall him before your eyes in this guise, immediately ye loathe him, ye turn your face away, and stop your nostrils: see then with the eyes of the heart. “He died, and was carried by the Angels into Abraham’s bosom.” The rich man’s family was seen bewailing him; the Angels were not seen rejoicing. What then did Abraham answer the rich man? “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst good things.” (Lk 16:25) Thou thoughtest nothing good, but what thou hadst in this life. Thou hast received them; but those days are past; and thou hast lost the whole; and thou hast remained behind to be tormented in hell.” (Augustine, Serm. 102.3.4, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 426)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Amos 8:4–7
Second Reading 1 Timothy 2:1–8
Gospel Luke 16:1–13 or Luke 16:10–13

Origen--the prayers of Christians a more effective help to rulers than soldiers:
‎‎we do, when occasion requires, give help to kings, and that, so to say, a divine help, “putting on the whole armour of God.” (Eph. 6:11) And this we do in obedience to the injunction of the apostle, “I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; ” (1 Tim 2:1, 2) and the more any one excels in piety, the more effective help does he render to kings, even more than is given by soldiers, who go forth to fight and slay as many of the enemy as they can. (Origen, Cont. Cels. 8.73, ANF, vol. 4, pg. 667)

St. Augustine on Christ the Mediator:
‎‎‎But the true Mediator, whom in Thy secret mercy Thou hast pointed out to the humble, and didst send, that by His example also they might learn the same humility—that “Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim 2:5) appeared between mortal sinners and the immortal Just One—mortal with men, just with God; that because the reward of righteousness is life and peace, He might, by righteousness conjoined with God, cancel the death of justified sinners, which He willed to have in common with them. Hence He was pointed out to holy men of old; to the intent that they, through faith in His Passion to come, even as we through faith in that which is past, might be saved. For as man He was Mediator; but as the Word He was not between, (medius) because equal to God, and God with God, and together with the Holy Spirit one God. (Augustine, Conf. 10.43.68, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 162)

St. Augustine--no man is saved unless God wills it, so we must pray for our salvation:
‎‎Accordingly, when we hear and read in Scripture that He “will have all men to be saved,” (1 Tim 2:4) although we know well that all men are not saved, we are not on that account to restrict the omnipotence of God, but are rather to understand the Scripture, “Who will have all men to be saved,” as meaning that no man is saved unless God wills his salvation: not that there is no man whose salvation He does not will, but that no man is saved apart from His will; and that, therefore, we should pray Him to will our salvation, because if He will it, it must necessarily be accomplished. (Augustine, Enchir. 103.27, NPNF1, vol. 8, pg. 270)

St. John Chrysostom on offering prayers and thanksgiving:
‎‎He says, “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks.” For we must give thanks to God for the good that befalls others, as that He maketh the sun to shine upon the evil and the good, and sendeth His rain both upon the just and the unjust. Observe how he would unite and bind us together, not only by prayer but by thanksgiving. For he who is urged to thank God for his neighbor’s good, is also bound to love him, and be kindly disposed towards him. And if we must give thanks for our neighbor’s good, much more for what happens to ourselves, and for what is unknown, and even for things against our will, and such as appear grievous to us, since God dispenses all things for our good. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Tim. 6, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 427)

John Cassian--the things we have are not our own:
‎‎In leaving then these visible goods of the world we forsake not our own wealth, but that which is not ours, although we boast of it as either gained by our own exertions or inherited by us from our forefathers. For as I said nothing is our own, save this only which we possess with our heart, and which cleaves to our soul, and therefore cannot be taken away from us by any one. But Christ speaks in terms of censure of those visible riches, to those who clutch them as if they were their own, and refuse to share them with those in want. “If ye have not been faithful in what is another’s, who will give to you what is your own?” (Lk 16:12) Plainly then it is not only daily experience which teaches us that these riches are not our own, but this saying of our Lord also, by the very title which it gives them. (Cassian, Collat. 1.3.10, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 324-325)

St. John Chrysostom--make "friends of the mammon of unrighteousness" by giving alms:
‎‎Let us make then to ourselves “friends of the mammon of unrighteousness” (Luke xvi. 9), that is: Let us give alms; let us exhaust our possessions upon them, that so we may exhaust that fire: that we may quench it, that we may have boldness there. For there also it is not they who receive us, but our own work: for that it is not simply their being our friends which can save us, learn from what is added. For why did He not say, “Make to yourselves friends, that they may receive you into their everlasting habitations,” but added also the manner? For saying, “of the mammon of unrighteonsness,” He points out that we must make friends of them by means of our possessions, showing that mere friendship will not protect us, unless we have good works, unless we spend righteously the wealth unrighteously gathered. (Chrysostom, Hom. Heb. 1.4, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 369)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Exodus 32:7–11, 13–14
Second Reading 1 Timothy 1:12–17
Gospel Luke 15:1–32 or Luke 15:1–10

St. John Chrysostom--Moses's care for Israel and example to all pastors:
‎‎This is the sympathy of a teacher, this is the natural care of a father. For Moses too, when it was in his power to have been delivered from the ingratitude of the Jews, and to have laid the more glorious foundation of another and far greater people, (“Let Me alone,” said God, “that I may consume them, and make of thee a nation mightier than this”—Ex. 32:10,) because he was a holy man, the servant of God, and a friend very true and generous, he did not endure even to hearken to this word, but chose rather to perish with those who had been once allotted to him, than without them to be saved and be in greater honor. Such ought he to be who has the charge of souls. (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 13.1, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 44)

St John Chrysostom on the humility of St. Paul:
‎“I thank the Lord, who hath enabled me.” Observe how he thanks God even for that which was his own part. For he acknowledges it as a favor from Him that he was “a chosen vessel.” For this, O blessed Paul, was thy own part. “For God is no respecter of persons.” But I thank Him that he “thought me worthy of this ministry.” For this is a proof that He esteemed me faithful. The steward in a house is not only thankful to his master that he is trusted, but considers it as a sign that he holds him more faithful than others: so it is here. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Tim. 3, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 417)

St. John Chrysostom on honoring God:
‎“To Him be honor and glory forever. Amen.”
‎Now honor and glory are not mere words; and since He has honored us not by words only, but by what He has done for us, so let us honor Him by works and deeds. Yet this honor touches us, while that reaches not Him, for He needs not the honor that comes from us, we do need that which is from Him.
‎In honoring Him, therefore, we do honor to ourselves. He who opens his eyes to gaze on the light of the sun, receives delight himself, as he admires the beauty of the star, but does no favor to that luminary, nor increases its splendor, for it continues what it was; much more is this true with respect to God. He who admires and honors God does so to his own salvation, and highest benefit; and how? Because he follows after virtue, and is honored by Him. For “them that honor Me,” He says, “I will honor.” (1 Sam. iv. 30) How then is He honored, if He enjoys no advantage from our honor? Just as He is said to hunger and thirst. For He assumes everything that is ours, that He may in anywise attract us to Him. He is said to receive honors, and even insults, that we may be afraid. But with all this we are not attracted towards Him! (Chysostom, Hom. 1 Tim. 4, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 421)

Apostolic Constitutions--the bishop is to seek out the lost sheep:
‎‎But do thou, like a compassionate shepherd, and a diligent feeder of the flock, search out, and keep an account of thy flock. Seek that which is wanting; (Mt 18:12) as the Lord God our gracious Father has sent His own Son, the good Shepherd and Saviour, our Master Jesus, and has commanded Him to “leave the ninety-nine upon the mountains, and to go in search after that which was lost, and when He had found it, to take it upon His shoulders, and to carry it into the flock, rejoicing that He had found that which was lost.” (Lk 15:4) In like manner, be obedient, O bishop, and do thou seek that which was lost, guide that which has wandered out of the right way, bring back that which is gone astray: for thou hast authority to bring them back, and to deliver those that are broken-hearted by remission. (Apostolic Constitutions 2.20, ANF, vol. 7, pg. 405)

St. John Chrysostom--God brings back the lost sheep with gentleness:
‎‎Now that sheep which had got separated from the ninety and nine, (Lk 15:4, 5) and then was brought back again, represents to us nothing else than the fall and return of the faithful; for it was a sheep not of some alien flock, but belonging to the same number as the rest, and was for merly pastured by the same shepherd, and it strayed on no common straying, but wandered away to the mountains and in valleys, that is to say some long journey, far distant from the right path. Did he then suffer it to stray? By no means, but brought it back neither driving it, nor beating it, but taking it upon his shoulders. For as the best physicians bring back those who are far gone in sickness with careful treatment to a state of health, not only treating them according to the laws of the medical art, but sometimes also giving them gratification: even so God conducts to virtue those who are much depraved, not with great severity, but gently and gradually, and supporting them on every side, so that the separation may not become greater, nor the error more prolonged. (Chrysostom, Theod. laps. 1.7, NPNF1, vol. 9, pg. 96)

For Luke 15:11-32, see Lent 4, Year C.