Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading  Isaiah 66:10–14c
Second Reading  Galatians 6:14–18
Gospel  Luke 10:1–12, 17–20 or Luke 10:1–9

St. Clement of Alexandria on the motherhood of the Church and the fatherhood of God to the believer:
‎“Their children,” it is said, “shall be borne upon their shoulders, and fondled on their knees; as one whom his mother comforteth, so also shall I comfort you.” (Isa. 66:12, 13) The mother draws the children to herself; and we seek our mother the Church. Whatever is feeble and tender, as needing help on account of its feebleness, is kindly looked on, and is sweet and pleasant, anger changing into help in the case of such: for thus horses’ colts, and the little calves of cows, and the lion’s whelp, and the stag’s fawn, and the child of man, are looked upon with pleasure by their fathers and mothers. Thus also the Father of the universe cherishes affection towards those who have fled to Him; and having begotten them again by His Spirit to the adoption of children, knows them as gentle, and loves those alone, and aids and fights for them; and therefore He bestows on them the name of child. (Clem. Alex. Paed. 1.5, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 214)

St. Augustine--the Lord shall flow down as a river of peace at the resurrection and judgment:
‎In His promise to the good he says that He will flow down as a river of peace, that is to say, in the greatest possible abundance of peace. With this peace we shall in the end be refreshed; but of this we have spoken abundantly in the preceding book. It is this river in which he says He shall flow down upon those to whom He promises so great happiness, that we may understand that in the region of that felicity, which is in heaven, all things are satisfied from this river. But because there shall thence flow, even upon earthly bodies, the peace of incorruption and immortality, therefore he says that He shall flow down as this river, that He may as it were pour Himself from things above to things beneath, and make men the equals of the angels. By “Jerusalem,” too, we should understand not that which serves with her children, but that which, according to the apostle, is our free mother, eternal in the heavens. (Gal 4:26) In her we shall be comforted as we pass toilworn from earth’s cards and calamities, and be taken up as her children on her knees and shoulders. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 20.21.1, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 440)

Tertullian on being crucified to the world:
‎Moreover, “the world is crucified unto me,” who am a servant of the Creator—“the world,” (I say,) but not the God who made the world—“and I unto the world,” (Gal 6:14) (not unto the God who made the world. The world, in the apostle’s sense, here means life and conversation according to worldly principles; it is in renouncing these that we and they are mutually crucified and mutually slain. He calls them “persecutors of Christ.” (cf. Gal 6:17) But when he adds, that “he bare in his body the scars of Christ”—since scars, of course, are accidents of body—he therefore expressed the truth, that the flesh of Christ is not putative, but real and substantial, the scars of which he represents as borne upon his body. (Tertullian, Against Marcion 5.4, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 438)

St. John Chrysostom--like Paul, we ought to bear the marks of Jesus with delight:
‎The soldier who has received numberless wounds and is come home again, will he not return with exceeding delight, with his wounds as his title for speaking up boldly, and as evidence of his glory and renown? And thou, if thou be able to exclaim as Paul does, “I bear the marks of Jesus” (Gal. vi. 17), wilt be able to become great and glorious and renowned. “But there is no persecution.” Make thy stand against glory: and should any one speak anything against thee, fear not to be evil-spoken of for Christ’s sake: make thy stand against the tyranny of pride, against the fighting of anger, against the torment of concupiscence. These also are “marks,” these also are torments. For, I ask, what is the worst in tortures? Is it not, that the soul is pained, and is on fire? For in the other case, the body too has its share: but in this, the whole belongs to the soul. (Chrysostom, Hom. Ac. 15, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 98)

St. John Chrysostom on the boast of the Cross:
And what is the boast of the Cross? That Christ for my sake took on Him the form of a slave, and bore His sufferings for me the slave, the enemy, the unfeeling one; yea He so loved me as to give Himself up to a curse for me. What can be comparable to this! If servants who only receive praise from their masters, to whom they are akin by nature, are elated thereby, how must we not boast when the Master who is very God is not ashamed of the Cross which was endured for us. Let us then not be ashamed of His unspeakable tenderness; He was not ashamed of being crucified for thy sake, and wilt thou be ashamed to confess His infinite solicitude? (Chrysostom, Hom. Gal. 6, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 46)

St. Clement of Alexandria--we must be unencumbered on our journey to the truth:
We, then, on our journey to the truth, must be unencumbered. “Carry not,” said the Lord, “purse, nor scalp, nor shoes;” (Lk 10:4) that is, possess not wealth, which is only treasured up in a purse; fill not your own stores, as if laying up produce in a bag, but communicate to those who have need. Do not trouble yourselves about horses and servants, who, as bearing burdens when the rich are travelling, are allegorically called shoes. (Clem. Alex., Paed. 3.7, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 281)

Origen on the fall of Satan:
[Jesus] compares him to lightning, and says that he fell from heaven, that He might show by this that he had been at one time in heaven, and had had a place among the saints, and had enjoyed a share in that light in which all the saints participate, by which they are made angels. of light, and by which the apostles are termed by the Lord the light of the world. In this manner, then, did that being once exist as light before he went astray, and fell to this place, and had his glory turned into dust, which is peculiarly the mark of the wicked. (Origen, De princ. 1.5.5, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 259)

St. Gregory the Great on the Luke 10:20:
For we ought to remember how, when the disciples returned with joy from preaching, and said to their heavenly Master, Lord, in thy name even the devils are subject unto us (Luke 10:17), they straightway heard, In this rejoice not; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20). For they had set their minds on private and temporal gladness, when they rejoiced in the miracles. But they are recalled from private to common, from temporal to eternal gladness, when it is said to them, In this rejoice ye, because your names are written in heaven. For not all the elect work miracles; and yet the names of all of them are kept enrolled in heaven. For to the disciples of the Truth there should not be joy, save for that good which they have in common with all, and in which they have no end to their gladness. (Gregory the Great, Regist. 11.28, NPNF2, vol. 13, pg. 55)

St. Augustine--the 72 signify the order of presbyters:
As also in twenty-four hours the whole world moves round and receives light, so the mystery of enlightening the world by the Gospel of the Trinity, is hinted at in the seventy-two disciples. For three times twenty-four makes seventy-two. Now as no one doubts that the twelve Apostles foreshadowed the order of Bishops, so also we must know that these seventy-two represented the presbytery, (that is, the second order of priests.) Nevertheless, in the earliest times of the Church, as the Apostolical writings bear witness, both were called presbyters, both also called bishops, the former of these signifying “ripeness of wisdom,” the latter, “diligence in the pastoral care.” (Augustine, de Quaest. Ev. 50.2, q. 14, in Cat. Aur. 3.1, page 344-345)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading 1 Kings 19:16b, 19–21
Second Reading Galatians 5:1, 13–18
Gospel Luke 9:51–62

St. Ambrose--the Lord calls some of us like Elisha to give up all we have to devote ourselves to the prophetic teaching:
‎It is the intention, therefore, that makes the gift valuable or poor, and gives to things their value. The Lord does not want us to give away all our goods at once, but to impart them little by little; unless, indeed, our case is like that of Elisha, who killed his oxen, and fed the people on what he had, so that no household cares might hold him back, and that he might give up all things, and devote himself to the prophetic teaching. (1 Ki 19:20) (Ambrose, De offic. 1.30.149, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 25)

St. John Chrysostom on the response of the Apostles, 1 Ki 19:20, 21 and Mt 8:21, 22:
‎But mark both their faith, and their obedience. For though they were in the midst of their work (and ye know how greedy a thing fishing is), when they heard His command. they delayed not, they procrastinated not, they said not, “let us return home, and converse with our kinsfolk,” but “they forsook all and followed,” even as Elisha did to Elijah” (1 Ki 19:20, 21) Because such is the obedience which Christ seeks of us, as that we delay not even a moment of time, though something absolutely most needful should vehemently press on us. Wherefore also when some other had come unto Him, and was asking leave to bury his own father, (Mt 8:21, 22) not even this did He permit him to do: to signify that before all we ought to esteem the following of Himself. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 14.3, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 88)

John Cassian--the struggle between the spirit and the flesh serves to urge us on to a higher state:
‎This conflict too we read in the Apostle has for our good been placed in our members: “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh. But these two are opposed to each other so that ye should not do what ye would.” (Gal 5:17) You have here too a contest as it were implanted in our bodies, by the action and arrangement of the Lord. For when a thing exists in everybody universally and without the slightest exception, what else can you think about it except that it belongs to the substance of human nature, since the fall of the first man, as it were naturally: and when a thing is found to be congenital with everybody, and to grow with their growth, how can we help believing that it was implanted by the will of the Lord, not to injure them but to help them? But the reason of this conflict; viz., of flesh and spirit, he tells us is this: that ye should not do what ye would.” And so, if we fulfil what God arranged that we should not fulfil, i.e., that we should not do what we liked, how can we help believing that it is bad for us? And this conflict implanted in us by the arrangement of the Creator is in a way useful to us, and calls and urges us on to a higher state: and if it ceased, most surely there would ensue on the other hand a peace that is fraught with danger. (Cassian, Collat. 1.4.7, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 332)

St. Augustine--as soon as, by sin, the soul deserted God, the flesh began to rebel against it:
‎For, as soon as our first parents had transgressed the commandment, divine grace forsook them, and they were confounded at their own wickedness; and therefore they took fig-leaves (which were possibly the first that came to hand in their troubled state of mind), and covered their shame; for though their members remained the same, they had shame now where they had none before. They experienced a new motion of their flesh, which had become disobedient to them, in strict retribution of their own disobedience to God. For the soul, revelling in its own liberty, and scorning to serve God, was itself deprived of the command it had formerly maintained over the body. And because it had willfully deserted its superior Lord, it no longer held its own inferior servant; neither could it hold the flesh subject, as it would always have been able to do had it remained itself subject to God. Then began the flesh to lust against the Spirit, (Gal 5:17) in which strife we are born, deriving from the first transgression a seed of death, and bearing in our members, and in our vitiated nature, the contest or even victory of the flesh. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 13.13, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 251)

St. John Chrystosom--St. Paul is not to be understood as calling the body evil. "Flesh" and "spirit" speak more of two mental states than of body and soul:
‎What then is his meaning? it is the earthly mind, slothful and careless, that he here calls the flesh, and this is not an accusation of the body, but a charge against the slothful soul. The flesh is an instrument, and no one feels aversion and hatred to an instrument, but to him who abuses it. For it is not the iron instrument but the murderer, whom we hate and punish. But it may be said that the very calling of the faults of the soul by the name of the flesh is in itself an accusation of the body. And I admit that the flesh is inferior to the soul, yet it too is good, for that which is inferior to what is good may itself be good, but evil is not inferior to good, but opposed to it. Now if you are able to prove to me that evil originates from the body, you are at liberty to accuse it; but if your endeavor is to turn its name into a charge against it, you ought to accuse the soul likewise. (Chrysostom, Hom. Gal. 5, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 41)

Tertullian--Christ response to the young man wishing to first bury his father reveals that we are priests:
‎For the reason why He recalls that young man who was hastening to his father’s obsequies, (Mt 8:21, Lk 9:59, 60) is that He may show that we are called priests by Him; (priests) whom the Law used to forbid to be present at the sepulture of parents: (Lev 21:11) “Over every dead soul,” it says, “the priest shall not enter, and over his own father and over his own mother he shall not be contaminated.” “Does it follow that we too are bound to observe this prohibition? ”No, of course. For our one Father, God, lives, and our mother, the Church; and neither are we dead who live to God, nor do we bury our dead, inasmuch as they too are living in Christ. At all events, priests we are called by Christ; debtors to monogamy, in accordance with the pristine Law of God, which prophesied at that time of us in its own priests. (Tertullian, On Monogamy 7, ANF, vol. 4, pg. 64)

St. Augustine on Luke 9:58:
‎What then did He answer? “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His Head.” (Lk 9:58) But where hath He not? In thy faith. For in thy heart foxes have holes, thou art full of guile; in thy heart birds of the air have nests; thou art lifted up. Full of guile and self-elation as thou art, thou shalt not follow Me. How can a guileful man follow Simplicity? (Augustine, Serm. 100.1, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 420)

St. Augustine--Christ rebuked the Apostles because they called for vengenge out of hatred rather than correction out of love:
‎And when the disciples had quoted an example from this Elias, mentioning to the Lord what had been done by him, in order that He might give to themselves also the power of calling down fire from heaven to consume those who would not show Him hospitality, the Lord reproved in them, not the example of the holy prophet, but their ignorance in respect to taking vengeance, their knowledge being as yet elementary; (Lk 9:52-56) perceiving that they did not in love desire correction, but in hated desired revenge. (Augustine, De serm. Dom. in mont. 1.20.64, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 28)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sententia Patristicae: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Zechariah 12:10–11, 13:1
Second Reading Galatians 3:26–29
Gospel Luke 9:18–24

St. Jerome discusses variations between the LXX, the Hebrew and the Old Latin in Zech 12:10:
‎To take another instance from Zechariah, the evangelist John quotes from the Hebrew, “They shall look on him whom they pierced,” (Jn 19:37; Zech 12:10) for which we read in the Septuagint, “And they shall look upon me because they have mocked me,” and in the Latin version, “And they shall look upon me for the things which they have mocked or insulted.” Here the evangelist, the Septuagint, and our own version [i.e. the Italic, for theVulgate, which was not then published, accurately represents the Hebrew.] all differ; yet the divergence of language is atoned by oneness of spirit. In Matthew again we read of the Lord preaching flight to the apostles and confirming His counsel with a passage from Zechariah. (Jerome, Ep. 57.7, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 115)

St. Gregory the Great--the house of David is a fountain of ablution for sinners because of the mercy disclosed through Christ:
‎That woman who had been a sinner in the city, those hands which had been polluted with iniquity, touched the feet of Him who sits at the right hand of the Father above all the angels. Let us estimate, if we can, what those bowels of heavenly loving-kindness are, that a woman who had been plunged through sin into the whirlpool’s depth should be thus lifted high on the wing of love through grace. It is fulfilled, sweetdaughter, it is fulfilled, what was promised to us by the prophetic voice concerning this time of the holy Church: And in that day the house of David shall be an open fountain for ablution of the sinner and of her that is unclean (Zech. 13:1). For the house of David is an open fountain for ablution to us sinners, because we are washed from the filth of our iniquities by mercy now disclosed through the son of David our Saviour. (Gregory the Great, Regist. 7.25, NPNF2, vol. 12, pg. 219)

St. Hilary of Poitiers--the unity of the faithful arises from the nature of the sacraments:
‎For the Apostle shews that this unity of the faithful arises from the nature of the sacraments when be writes to the Galatians. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There is neither ew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:27, 28). That these are one amid so great diversities of race, condition, sex,—is it from an agreement of will or from the unity of the sacrament, since these have one baptism and have all put on one Christ? What, therefore, will a concord of minds avail here when they are one in that they have put on one Christ through the nature of one baptism? (Hilary, De Trin. 8.8, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 139)

St. Augustine--our divisions arise from our first birth, our union comes by our second birth in Christ:
“As many as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ: there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male nor female, there is neither bond nor free; but all are one in Christ.” (Gal 3:27, 28) Man, then, is made by God, not when from one he is divided into many, but when from many he becomes one. The division is in the first birth, or that of the body; union comes by the second, which is immaterial and divine. (Augustine, Contra Faust. 24.1, NPNF1, vol. 4, pg. 317)

St. John Chrysostom--the bapitized carry about with them the form of the Lord of all:
‎Ver. 28. “There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female: for ye all are one in Christ Jesus.”

‎See what an insatiable soul! for having said, “We are all made children of God through Faith,” he does not stop there, but tries to find something more exact, which may serve to convey a still closer oneness with Christ. Having said, “ye have put on Christ,” even this does not suffice Him, but by way of penetrating more deeply into this union, he comments on it thus: “Ye are all One in Christ Jesus,” that is, ye have all one form and one mould, even Christ’s. What can be more awful than these words! He that was a Greek, or Jew, or bond-man yesterday, carries about with him the form, not of an Angel or Archangel, but of the Lord of all, yea displays in his own person the Christ (Chrysostom, Hom. Gal. 3, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 30)

Tertullian on taking up your cross:
‎If you wish to be the Lord’s disciple, it is necessary you “take your cross, and follow the Lord: ” (Mt 14:24, Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23, 14:27) your cross; that is, your own straits and tortures, or your body only, which is after the manner of a cross. (Tertullian, On Idolatry 12, ANF vol. 3, pg. 68)

St. Basil on the same:
Now a desire of suffering death for Christ and a mortification of one’s members which are upon the earth, and a manful resolution to undergo any danger for Christ, and an indifference towards the present life, this it is to take up one s cross. Hence it is added, And let him take up his cross daily. (Basil, in reg. fus. Int. 6 in Cat. Aur. 3.1, 315)

St. Cyril of Alexandria on the example set by Our Lord in prayer:
Our Lord having retired from the multitude, and being in a place apart, was engaged in prayer. As it is said, And it came to pass, as he was alone praying. For He ordained Himself as an example of this, instructing His disciples by an easy method of teaching. For I suppose the rulers of the people ought to be superior also in good deeds, to those that are under them, ever holding converse with them in all necessary things, and treating of those things in which God delights. (Cyril of Alexandria, in Cat. Aur. 3.1, 310-311)

St. Ambrose on Our Lord's unwillingness to be preached:
But our Lord Jesus Christ was at first unwilling to be preached, lest an uproar should arise; as it follows, And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man any thing. For many reasons He commands His disciples to be silent ; to deceive the prince of this world, to reject boasting, to teach humility. Christ then would not boast, and dost thou boast who art of ignoble birth ? Likewise He did it to prevent rude and as yet imperfect disciples from being oppressed with the wonder of this awful announcement. They are then forbid to preach Him as the Son of God, that they might afterwards preach Him crucified. (Ambrose in Cat. Aur. 3.1, 312-313)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading 2 Samuel 12:7–10, 13
Second Reading Galatians 2:16, 19–21
Gospel Luke 7:36–8:3 or Luke 7:36–50

St. Cyril of Jerusalem on David's repentence:
‎‎Nathan the Prophet came, a swift accuser, and a healer of the wound. The Lord is wroth, he says, and thou hast sinned (2 Sam 12). So spake the subject to the reigning king. But David the king was not indignant, for he regarded not the speaker, but God who had sent him. He was not puffed up by the array of soldiers standing round: for he had seen in thought the angel-host of the Lord, and he trembled as seeing Him who is invisible (Heb 11:27); and to the messenger, or rather by him in answer to God who sent him, he said, I have sinned against the Lord (2 Sam 12:13). Seest thou the humility of the king? Seest thou his confession? For had he been convicted by any one? Were many privy to the matter? The deed was quickly done, and straightway the Prophet appeared as accuser, and the offender confesses the fault. And because he candidly confessed, he received a most speedy cure. (Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Lect. 2, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 10)

St. Ambrose, in his famous rebuke to the Emperor Theodosius, exhorts him to follow the example of the repentence of David:
‎‎Are you ashamed, O Emperor, to do that which the royal prophet David, the forefather of Christ, according to the flesh, did? To him it was told how the rich man who had many flocks seized and killed the poor man’s one lamb, because of the arrival of his guest, and recognizing that he himself was being condemned in the tale, for that he himself had done it, he said: “l have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Sam 12:13) Bear it, then, without impatience, O Emperor, if it be said to you: “You have done that which was spoken of to King David by the prophet. For if you listen obediently to this, and say: “I have sinned against the Lord,” if you repeat those words of the royal prophet: “O come let us worship and fall down before Him, and mourn before the Lord our God. Who made us,” (Ps 95:6) it shall be said to you also: “Since thou repentest, the Lord putteth away thy sin, and thou shalt not die,” (2 Sam 12:13) (Ambrose, Ep. 51.7, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 451)

Origen on denying oneself and glorying in the Cross:
‎‎Moreover in regard to the saying, “Let him deny himself,” (Mt 16:24) the following saying of Paul who denied himself seems appropriate, “Yet I live, and yet no longer I but Christ liveth in me; ” (Gal 2:20) for the expression, “I live, yet no longer I,” was the voice of one denying himself, as of one who had laid aside his own life and taken on himself the Christ, in order that He might live in him as Righteousness, and as Wisdom, and as Sanctification, and as our Peace, (1 Cor 1:30; Eph 2:14) and as the Power of God, who worketh all things in him. But further also, attend to this, that while there are many forms of dying, the Son of God was crucified, being hanged on a tree, in order that all who die unto sin may die to it, in no other way than by the way of the cross. Wherefore they will say, “I have been crucified with Christ,” and, “Far be it from me to glory save in the cross of the Lord, through which the world has been crucified unto me and I unto the world.” (Gal 2:20, 6:14) For perhaps also each of those who have been crucified with Christ puts off from himself the principalities and the powers, and makes a show of them and triumphs over them in the cross; (Col 2:15) or rather, Christ does these things in them. (Origen, Comm. Matt. 12.25, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 464)

St. Augustine--we recieve life from Christ, who has life in Himself:
‎Where hath Paul life? Not in himself, but in Christ. Where hast thou, believer? Not in thyself, but in Christ. Let us see whether the apostle says this: “Now I live; but not I, but Christ liveth in me.” (Gal 2:20) Our life, as ours, that is, of our own personal will,will be only evil, sinful, unrighteous; but the life in us that is good is from God, not from ourselves; it is given to us by God, not by ourselves. But Christ hath life in Himself, as the Father hath, because He is the Word of God. With Him, it is not the case that He liveth now ill, now well; but as for man, he liveth now ill, now well. He who was living ill, was in his own life; he who is living well, is passed to the life of Christ. Thou art made a partaker of life; thou wast not that which thou hast received, but wast one who received: but it is not so with the Son of God as if at first He was without life, and then received life. For if thus He received life, He would not have it in Himself. For, indeed, what is in Himself? That He should Himself be the very life. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 22.9, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 148)

St. John Chrysostom on being crucified with Christ:
‎In these words, “I am crucified with Christ,” he alludes to Baptism and in the words “nevertheless I live, yet not I,” our subsequent manner of life whereby our members are mortified. By saying “Christ liveth in me,” he means nothing is done by me, which Christ disapproves; for as by death he signifies not what is commonly understood, but a death to sin; so by life, he signifies a delivery from sin. For a man cannot live to God, otherwise than by dying to sin; and as Christ suffered bodily death, so does Paul a death to sin. (Chrysostom, Hom. Gal. 2, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 22)

St. Irenaeus--God's patience works that we may always live in gratitude:
‎This, therefore, was the [object of the] long-suffering of God, that man, passing through all things, and acquiring the knowledge of moral discipline, then attaining to the resurrection from the dead, and learning by experience what is the source of his deliverance, may always live in a state of gratitude to the Lord, having obtained from Him the gift of incorruptibility, that he might love Him the more; for “he to whom more is forgiven, loveth more:” (Lk 7:43) and that he may know himself, how mortal and weak he is; while he also understands respecting God, that He is immortal and powerful to such a degree as to confer immortality upon what is mortal, and eternity upon what is temporal; and may understand also the other attributes of God displayed towards himself, by means of which being instructed he may think of God in accordance with the divine greatness. For the glory of man [is] God, but [His] works [are the glory] of God; and the receptacle of all His. wisdom and power [is] man. Just as the physician is proved by his patients, so is God also revealed through men. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3.20.2, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 450)

St. Ambrose--because the Church is the Body of Christ, he who has mercy on the lowly pours water on the feet of Christ:
‎And, therefore, He said to Simon: “Thou seest this woman. I entered into thine house, and thou gavest Me no water for My feet, but she hath washed My feet with her tears.” (Lk 7:44) We are all the one body of Christ, the head of which is God, and we are the members; some perchance eyes, as the prophets; others teeth, as the apostles, who have passed the food of the Gospel preached into our breasts, and rightly is it written: “His eyes shall be bright with wine. and his teeth whiter than milk.” (Gen 49:12) And His hands are they who are seen to carry out good works, His belly are they who distribute the strength of nourishment on the poor. So, too, some are His feet, and would that I might be worthy to be His heel! He, then, pours water upon the feet of Christ, who forgives the very lowest their offences, and while delivering those of low estate, yet is washing the feet of Christ. (Ambrose, Ep. 41.11, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 447)

St. Augustine--he who has been forgiven little ought also to be grateful for being preserved by God's grace from sin:
‎The other has not committed many sins; what shall we do for him that he may love much? what shall we persuade him? Shall we go against the words of the Lord, “To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little”? Yes, most truly so, to whom little is really forgiven. But O thou who sayest that thou hast not committed many sins: why hast thou not? by whose guidance? God be thanked, that by your movement and voice ye have made signs that ye have understood me. Now then, as I think, the difficulty has been solved. The one has committed many sins, and so is made a debtor for many; the other through God’s guidance has committed but few. To Him to whom the one ascribes what He hath forgiven, does the other also ascribe what he hath not committed. Thou hast not been an adulterer in that past life of thine, which was full of ignorance, when as yet thou wast not enlightened, as yet discerned not good and evil, as yet believed not on Him, who was guiding thee though thou didst not know Him. Thus doth thy God speak to thee: “I was guiding thee for Myself, I was keeping thee for Myself. (Augustine, Serm. 99.6, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 417)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Body and Blood of the Lord, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Genesis 14:18–20
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 11:23–26
Gospel Luke 9:11b–17

St. Cyprian of Carthage--the sacrifice of Melchizedek prefigures the Eucharistic Sacrifice:
‎Also in the priest Melchizedek we see prefigured the sacrament of the sacrifice of the Lord, according to what divine Scripture testifies, and says, “And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine.” (Ge 14:18) Now he was a priest of the most high God, and blessed Abraham. And that Melchizedek bore a type of Christ, the Holy Spirit declares in the Psalms, saying from the person of the Father to the Son: “Before the morning star I begat Thee; Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek;” (Ps 110:4) which order is assuredly this coming from that sacrifice and thence descending; that Melchizedek was a priest of the most high God; that he offered wine and bread; that he blessed Abraham. For who is more a priest of the most high God than our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered a sacrifice to God the Father, and offered that very same thing which Melchizedek had offered, that is, bread and wine, to wit, His body and blood? (Cyprian, Ep. 63.4, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 359)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem--Christ's word should suffice for belief that the Eucharist is his body and blood:
Even of itself the teaching of the Blessed Paul is sufficient to give you a full assurance concerning those Divine Mysteries, of which having been deemed worthy, ye are become of the same body and blood with Christ. For you have just heard him say distinctly, That our Lord Jesus Christ in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks He brake it, and gave to His disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is My Body: and having taken the cup and given thanks, lie said, Take, drink, this is My Blood. (1 Cor 11:23) Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood? (Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Lect. 22.1, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 151)

St. John Damascene--Christ's body and blood are made present by the power of the Holy Spirit:
‎If then the Word of God is quick and energising (Heb 4:12), and the Lord did all that He willed(Ps 135:6); if He said, Let there be light and there was light, let there be a firmament and there was a firmament(Gen 1:3, 6); if the heavens were established by the Word of the Lord and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth(Ps 33:6); if the heaven and the earth, water and fire and air and the whole glory of these, and, in sooth, this most noble creature, man, were perfected by the Word of the Lord; if God the Word of His own will became man and the pure and undefiled blood of the holy and ever-virginal One made His flesh without the aid of seed, can He not then make the bread His body and the wine and water His blood? He said in the beginning, Let the earth bring forth grass (Gen 1:11), and even until this present day, when the rain comes it brings forth its proper fruits, urged on and strengthened by the divine command. God said, This is My body, and This is My blood, and this do ye in remembrance of Me. And so it is at His omnipotent command until He come: for it was in this sense that He said until He come: and the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit becomes through the invocation the rain to this new tillage. For just as God made all that He made by the energy of the Holy Spirit, so also now the energy of the Spirit performs those things that are supernatural and which it is not possible to comprehend unless by faith alone. How shall this be, said the holy Virgin, seeing I know not a man? And the archangel Gabriel answered her: The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee (Lk 1:34, 35). And now you ask, how the bread became Christ’s body and the wine and water Christ’s blood. And I say unto thee, “The Holy Spirit is present and does those things which surpass reason and thought.” (John Damascene, De Fide Orth. 4.13, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 82)

St. John Chrysostom--the Eucharist is the same mystery whenever it is celebrated:
‎The Mystery at Easter is not of more efficacy than that which is now celebrated. It is one and the same. There is the same grace of the Spirit, it is always a Passover. You who are initiated know this. On the Preparation, on the Sabbath, on the Lord’s day, and on the day of Martyrs, it is the same Sacrifice that is performed. “For as often,” he saith, “as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death.” (1 Cor. xi. 26) No time is limited for the performance of this Sacrifice, why then is it then called the Paschal feast? Because Christ suffered for us then. Let not the time, therefore, make any difference in your approach. There is at all times the same power, the same dignity, the same grace, one and the same body; nor is one celebration of it more or less holy than another. And this you know, who see upon these occasions nothing new, save these worldly veils, and a more splendid attendance. The only thing that these days have more is that from them commenced the day of our salvation when Christ was sacrificed. But with respect to these mysteries, those days have no further preĆ«minence. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Tim. 5, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 425)

St. Bede the Venerable on the feeding of the five thousand:
Now our Saviour does not create new food for the hungry multitudes, but He took those things which the disciples had and blessed them, since coming in the flesh He preaches nothing else than what had been foretold, but demonstrates the words of prophecy to be pregnant with the mysteries of grace ; He looks towards heaven, that thither He may teach us to direct the eye of the mind, there to seek the light of knowledge ; He breaks and distributes to the disciples to be placed before the multitude, because He revealed to them the Sacraments of the Law and the Prophets that they might preach them to the world. (Quoted in Cat. Aur. 3.2, pg. 309)