Monday, February 21, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary
First Reading Isaiah 49:14–15
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 4:1–5
Gospel Matthew 6:24–34

John Cassian--the providence and love of God is compared to the heart of a kind mother:
‎‎This providence and love of God therefore, which the Lord in His unwearied goodness vouchsafes to show us, He compares to the tenderest heart of a kind mother, as He wishes to express it by a figure of human affection, and finds in His creatures no such feeling of love, to which he could better compare it. And He uses this example, because nothing dearer can be found in human nature, saying: “Can a mother forget her child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?” But not content with this comparison He at once goes beyond it, and subjoins these words: “And though she may forget, yet will not I forget thee.” (Is 49:15) (John Cassian, Collat. 2.13.17, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 434)

Origen--we must keep our hearts with watchfulness, as the Lord will make their counsels manifest:
‎‎The spring and source, then, of every sin are evil thoughts; for, unless these gained the mastery, neither murders nor adulteries nor any other such thing would exist. Therefore, each man must keep his own heart with all watchfulness; (Pr 4:23) for when the Lord comes in the day of judgment, “He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts,” (1 Co 4:5) “all the thoughts of men meanwhile accusing or else excusing them,” (Ro 2:15) “when their own devices have beset them about.” (Hos 7:2) (Origen, Comm. Matt. 11.15, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 444)

St. Augustine--the Light that will make hidden things manifest is God Himself:
‎[B]ut when the Lord cometh, “who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts,” (1 Co 4:5) then shall nothing in any one be concealed from his neighbour; nor shall there be anything which any one might reveal to his friends, but keep hidden from strangers, for no stranger shall be there. What tongue can describe the nature and the greatness of that light by which all those things which are now in the hearts of men concealed shall be made manifest? who can with our weak faculties even approach it? Truly that Light is God Himself, for “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all;” (1 Jn 1:5) but He is the Light of purified minds, not of these bodily eyes. And the mind shall then be, what meanwhile it is not, able to see that light. (Augustine, Ep. 92.2, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 380)

St. Augustine--in heaven, we shall love our neighbor based on knowledge of his interior virtue which the Lord will bring to light:
‎‎We love God now by faith, then we shall love Him through sight. Now we love even our neighbor by faith; for we who are ourselves mortal know not the hearts of mortal men. But in the future life, the Lord “both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall every man have praise of God;” (1 Co 4:5) for every man shall love and praise in his neighbor the virtue which, that it may not be hid, the Lord Himself shall bring to light. (Augustine, Enchir. 121.32, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 276)

St. John Chrysostom--only the Lord can judge our secret doings:
‎For neither in this instance is he speaking of those sins which all own to be such, but about preferring one before another, and making comparisons of modes of life. For these things He alone knows how to judge with accuracy, who is to judge our secret doings, which of these be worthy of greater and which of less punishment and honor. But we do all this according to what meets our eye. “For if in mine own errors,” saith he, “I know nothing clearly, how can I be worthy to pass sentence on other men? And how shall I who know not my own case with accuracy, be able to judge the state of others?” Now if Paul felt this, much more we. For (to proceed) he spake these things, not to exhibit himself as faultless, but to shew that even should there be among them some such person, free from transgression, not even he would be worthy to judge the lives of others: and that if he, though conscious to himself of nothing declare himself guilty, much more they who have ten thousand sins to be conscious of in themselves. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 11.3, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg 60)

St. Cyprian of Carthage--the disciple prays only for his "daily bread", since he is to take no thought of tomorrow:
‎‎But he who has begun to be Christ’s disciple, renouncing all things according to the word of his Master, ought to ask for his daily food, and not to extend the desires of his petition to a long period, as the Lord again prescribes, and says, “Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow itself shall take thought for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” (Mt 6:34) With reason, then, does Christ’s disciple ask food for himself for the day, since he is prohibited from thinking of the morrow; because it becomes a contradiction and a repugnant thing for us to seek to live long in this world, since we ask that the kingdom of God should come quickly. (Cyprian, De orat. Dom. 19, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 452)

St. Augustine--God requires us to seek from him alone temporal goods in addition to eternal goods so that desire of them might not draw us from the worship of Him:
‎‎‎ “Consider the lilies, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is and to-morrow is cast into the oven, how much more shall He clothe you, O ye of little faith.!” (Mt 6:28-30) It was best, therefore, that the soul of man, which was still weakly desiring earthly things, should be accustomed to seek from God alone even these petty temporal boons. and the earthly necessaries of this transitory life, which are contemptible in comparison with eternal blessings, in order that the desire even of these things might not draw it aside from the worship of Him, to whom we come by despising and forsaking such things. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 10.14.1, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 189)

St. Augustine on distinguishing between the good we ought to seek and the things that are necessary on account of that good:
‎‎Here He shows most manifestly that these things are not to be sought as if they were our blessings in such sort, that on account of them we ought to do well in all our actings, but yet that they are necessary. For what the difference is between a blessing which is to be sought, and a necessary which is to be taken for use, He has made plain by this sentence, when He says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt 6:33) The kingdom and the righteousness of God therefore are our good; and this is to be sought, and there the end is to be set up, on account of which we are to do everything which we do. But because we serve as soldiers in this life, in order that we may be able to reach that kingdom, and because our life cannot be spent without these necessaries, “These things shall be added unto you,” says He; “but seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” For in using that word “first,” He has indicated that this is to be sought later, not in point of time, but in point of importance: the one as being our good, the other as being something necessary for us; but the necessary on account of that good. (Augustine, De serm. Dom. in mont. 2.16.53, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 50-51)

St. John Chrysostom--wealth can hurt us doubly in drawing us from God and enslaving us to mammon:
‎Thus, “wealth,” saith He, “hurts you not in this only, that it arms robbers against you, nor in that it darkens your mind in the most intense degree, but also in that it casts you out of God’s service, making you captive of lifeless riches, and in both ways doing you harm, on the one hand, by causing you to be slaves of what you ought to command; on the other, by casting you out of God’s service, whom, above all things, it is indispensable for you to serve.” For just as in the other place, He signified the mischief to be twofold, in both laying up here, “where moth corrupteth,” and in not laying up there, where the watch kept is impregnable; so in this place, too, He shows the loss to be twofold, in that it both draws off from God, and makes us subject to mammon. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 21.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, 146)

St. John Chrysostom--we ought to be confident that our Father will take care of our necessities:
‎And He adds along with this yet another argument. Of what kind then is it? That “ye have need” of them. What He saith is like this. What! are these things superfluous, that He should disregard them? Yet not even in superfluities did He show Himself wanting in regard, in the instance of the grass: but now are these things even necessary. So that what thou considerest a cause for thy being anxious, this I say is sufficient to draw thee from such anxiety. I mean, if thou sayest, “Therefore I must needs take thought, because they are necessary;” on the contrary, I say, “Nay, for this self-same reason take no thought, because they are necessary.” Since were they superfluities, not even then ought we to despair, but to feel confident about the supply of them; but now that they are necessary, we must no longer be in doubt. For what kind of father is he, who can endure to fail in supplying to his children even necessaries? So that for this cause again God will most surely bestow them. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 22.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 152)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary
First Reading Leviticus 19:1–2, 17–18
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 3:16–23
Gospel Matthew 5:38–48

Tertullian--to fail in the reproof of a brother is to contract his sin:
‎‎If one failed in this duty of reproof, he in fact sinned, either because out of hatred he wished his brother to continue in sin, or else spared him from mistaken friendship, although possessing the injunction in Leviticus: “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart; thy neighbor thou shalt seriously rebuke, and on his account shalt not contract sin.” (Lev 19:17) (Tertullian, Against Marcion 4.35, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 407)

St. Augustine--the command to love your neighbor is found in the law, but Christ makes it new by adding that we are to love has he has loved us:
‎‎The Lord Jesus declares that He is giving His disciples a new commandment, that they should love one another. “A new commandment,” He says, “I give unto you, that ye love one another.” But was not this already commanded in the ancient law of God, where it is written, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”? (Lev 19:18)Why, then, is it called a new one by the Lord, when it is proved to be so old? Is it on this account a new commandment, because He hath divested us of the old, and clothed us with the new man? For it is not indeed every kind of love that renews him that listens to it, or rather yields it obedience, but that love regarding which the Lord, in order to distinguish it from all carnal affection, added, “as I have loved you.” (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 65.1, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 317)

St. Jerome--we should not be partial toward wealth or poverty but judge each inidividual on the merits of his case:
‎‎“Thou shall not respect the person of the poor,” (Lev 19:15) a precept given lest under pretext of shewing pity we should judge unjust judgment. For each individual is to be judged not by his personal importance but by the merits of his case. His wealth need not stand in the way of the rich man, if he makes a good use of it; and poverty can be no recommendation to the poor if in the midst of squalor and want he fails to keep clear of wrong doing. (Jerome, Ep. 79.1, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 163)

St. Irenaeus--our bodies are temples of God, members of Christ and will partake of salvation:
‎‎And not only does he (the apostle) acknowledge our bodies to be a temple, but even the temple of Christ, saying thus to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot?” (1 Cor 3:17) He speaks these things, not in reference to some other spiritual man; for a being of such a nature could have nothing to do with an harlot: but he declares “our body,” that is, the flesh which continues in sanctity and purity, to be “the members of Christ;”but that when it becomes one with an harlot, it becomes the members of an harlot. And for this reason he said, “If any man defile the temple of God, him will God destroy.” How then is it not the utmost blasphemy to allege, that the temple of God, in which the Spirit of the Father dwells, and the members of Christ, do not partake of salvation, but are reduced to perdition? (Ireneaus, Adv. Haer. 5.6.2, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 532)

Tertullian--if the body is the temple of God, modesty is the sacristan and priestess of the temple:
‎‎For since, by the introduction into an appropriation (in) us of the Holy Spirit, we are all” the temple of God,” (1 Cor 3:16, 17, 6:19, 20) Modesty is the sacristan and priestess of that temple, who is to suffer nothing unclean or profane to be introduced (into it), for fear that the God who inhabits it should be offended, and quite forsake the polluted abode. (Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women, 2.1, ANF, vol. 4, pg. 18)

St. John Chrysostom on becoming a fool unto the world:
‎As he bids one become, as it were, dead unto the world;—and this deadness harms not at all, but rather profits, being made a cause of life:—so also he bids him become foolish unto this world, introducing to us hereby the true wisdom. Now he becomes a fool unto the world, who slights the wisdom from without, and is persuaded that it contributes nothing towards his comprehension of the faith. As then that poverty which is according to God is the cause of wealth, and lowliness, of exaltation, and to despise glory is the cause of glory; so also the becoming a fool maketh a man wiser than all. For all, with us, goes by contraries. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 10.2, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 54)

St. John Chrysostom on "all things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's:
‎“And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” In one sense “we are Christ’s, and in another sense “Christ is God’s,” and in a third sense is “the world ours.” For we indeed are Christ’s, as his work: “Christ is God’s, as a genuine Offspring, not as a work: in which sense neither is the world ours. So that though the saying is the same, yet the meaning is different. For “the world is ours,” as being a thing made for our sakes: but “Christ is God’s,” as having Him the Author of his being, in that He is Father. And “we are Christ’s,” as having been formed by Him. Now “if they are yours,” saith he, “why have ye done what is just contrary to this, in calling yourselves after their name, and not after Christ, and God?” (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 10.4, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 55)

St. Augustine--Christ forbids revenge, not the restraining of men from sin:
‎‎As to killing others in order to defend one’s own life, I do not approve of this, unless one happen to be a soldier or public functionary acting, not for himself, but in defence of others or of the city in which he resides, if he act according to the commission lawfully given him, and in the manner becoming his office. When, however, men are prevented, by being alarmed, from doing wrong, it may be said that a real service is done to themselves. The precept, “Resist not evil,” (Mt 5:39) was given to prevent us from taking pleasure in revenge, in which the mind is gratified by the sufferings of others, but not to make us neglect the duty of restraining men from sin. (Augustine, Ep. 47.5, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 293)

St. Augustine--the law brought the beginning o peace by moderating revenge, but perfect peace is to have no wish at all for vengeance:
It is the lesser righteousness of the Pharisees not to go beyond measure in revenge, that no one should give back more than he has received: and this is a great step. For it is not easy to find any one who, when he has received a blow, wishes merely to return the blow; and who, on hearing one word from a man who reviles him, is content to return only one, and that just an equivalent; but he avenges it more immoderately, either under the disturbing influence of anger, or because he thinks it just, that he who first inflicted injury should suffer more severe injury than he suffered who had not inflicted injury. Such a spirit was in great measure restrained by the law, where it was written, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;” by which expressions a certain measure is intended, so that the vengeance should not exceed the injury. And this is the beginning of peace: but perfect peace is to have no wish at all for such vengeance. (Augustine, De serm. Dom. in mont. 1.19.56, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 24)

St. Augustine--that we must give to all who ask does not necessarily mean giving everything to him that asks:
But since it is a small matter merely to abstain from injuring, unless you also confer a benefit as far as you can, He therefore goes on to say, “Give to every one that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” “To every one that asketh,” says He; not, Everything to him that asketh: so that you are to give that which you can honestly and justly give. For what if he should ask money, wherewith he may endeavour to oppress an innocent man? what if, in short, he should ask something unchaste? But not to recount many examples, which are in fact innumerable, that certainly is to be given which may hurt neither thyself nor the other party, as far as can be known or supposed by man; and in the case of him to whom you have justly denied what he asks, justice itself is to be made known, so that you may not send him away empty. Thus you will give to every one that asketh you, although you will not always give what he asks; and you will sometimes give something better, when you have set him right who was making unjust requests. (Augustine, De serm. Dom. in mont. 1.20.67, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 28-29)

St. John Chrysostom on how we ought to resist the evil one:
‎“What then?” it is said, “ought we not to resist the evil one?” Indeed. we ought, but not in this way, but as He hath commanded, by giving one’s self up to suffer wrongfully; for thus shall thou prevail over him. For one fire is not quenched by another, but fire by water. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 18.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 124)

St. John Chrysostom on the steps of virtue outlined by Our Lord:
‎‎Seest thou how many steps He hath ascended, and how He hath set us on the very summit of virtue? Nay, mark it, numbering from the beginning. A first step is, not to begin with injustice: a second, after he hath begun, to vindicate one’s self by equal retaliation; a third, not to do unto him that is vexing us the same that one hath suffered, but to be quiet; a fourth, even to give one’s self up to suffer wrongfully; a fifth, to give up yet more than the other, who did the wrong, wishes; a sixth, not to hate him who hath done so; a seventh, even to love him; an eighth, to do him good also; a ninth, to entreat God Himself on his behalf. Seest thou, what height of self-command? Wherefore glorious too, as we see, is the reward which it hath. That is, because the thing enjoined was great, and needed a fervent soul, and much earnestness, He appoints for it also such a reward, as for none of the former. For He makes not mention here of earth, as with respect to the meek; nor of comfort and mercy, as with regard to the mourners and the merciful; nor of the kingdom of Heaven; but of that which was more thrilling than all; our becoming like God, in such wise as men might become so. For He saith, “That ye may become like unto your Father which is in Heaven.” (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 18.4, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 126-127)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Documents of Vatican II in Logos

I have a post up about the Documents of Vatican II on my employer's blog.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Logos Lectionaries

Logos has made their lectionary resources available for individual download. (They were formerly only available with the Logos 4 base packages.)

Catholic Lectionary
Revised Common Lectionary
Christian Worship Three Year Lectionary (WELS)
Christian Worship One Year Lectionary (WELS)
United Methodist Revised Common Lectionary
Lutheran Service Book Three Year Lectionary (LCMS)
Lutheran Service Book One Year (Historic) Lectionary (LCMS)

In addition, two new lectionaries have been added:
Book of Common Prayer (1979) Sunday Lectionary
Book of Common Prayer (1979) Daily Office Lectionary
These new lectionaries are (at least for now) free.

A couple other notes:
  • An "Index of Readings" has been added to each lectionary that gives the entire lectionary cycle organized more like a "real" lectionary rather than being based on the secular calendar like the main part of the Logos lectionary.
  • The Catholic Lectionary is a bit more complete, now containing all the solemnities and major feasts found in Volume 1 of the Lectionary for Mass. This means that these feasts will show up correctly when they override on a Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary
First Reading Sirach 15:15–20
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 2:6–10
Gospel Matthew 5:17–37 or Matthew 5:20–22a, 27–28, 33–34a, 37

St. Augustine counters a Pelagian reading of Sirach 15:15 by explaining that the will to keep the commandments comes from God:
‎‎‎Or again, because it is said, “The commandments, if thou wilt, shall save thee,” (Ecclus 15:15) —as if a man ought not to thank God, because he has a will to keep the commandments, since, if he wholly lacked the light of truth, it would not be possible for him to possess such a will. “Fire and water being set before him, a man stretches forth his hand towards which he pleases;” (Ecclus 15:16) and yet higher is He who calls man to his higher vocation than any thought on man’s own part, inasmuch as the beginning of correction of the heart lies in faith, even as it is written, “Thou shall come, and pass on from the beginning of faith.” (Cant 5:8) Every one makes his choice of good, “according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith;” (Rom 12:3) and as the Prince of faith says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” (Jn 6:44) (Augustine, De perf. jusitit. 19.41, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 175)

St. Augustine--the Lord of glory took the form of a servant and was crucified in his human nature:
‎‎Yet unless the very same were the Son of man on account of the form of a servant which He took, who is the Son of God on account of the form of God in which He is; Paul the apostle would not say of the princes of this world, “For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Co 2:8) For He was crucified after the form of a servant, and yet “the Lord of glory” was crucified. For that “taking” was such as to make God man, and man God. Yet what is said on account of what, and what according to what, the thoughtful, diligent, and pious reader discerns for himself, the Lord being his helper. For instance, we have said that He glorifies His own, as being God, and certainly then as being the Lord of glory; and yet the Lord of glory was crucified, because even God is rightly said to have been crucified, not after the power of the divinity, but after the weakness of the flesh: (2 Co 13:4) (Augustine, De Trin. 1.13.28, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 33)

St. Augustine--we believe in order that we may know:
‎‎For we believe in order that we may know, we do not know in order that we may believe. For what we shall yet know, neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered the heart of man. (Is 54:5, 1 Co 2:9) For what is faith, but believing what you see not? Faith then is to believe what you see not; truth, to see what you have believed, as He Himself saith in a certain place. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 40.9, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 228)

St. John Chrysostom--in what sense the Gospel is a "mystery":
‎‎And though it be everywhere preached, still is it a mystery; for as we have been commanded, “what things we have heard in the ear, to speak upon the house tops,” so have we been also charged, “not to give the holy things unto dogs nor yet to cast our pearls before swine.” (Mt 7:9) For some are carnal and do not understand: others have a veil upon their hearts and do not see: wherefore that is above all things a mystery, which everywhere is preached, but is not known of those who have not a right mind; and is revealed not by wisdom but by the Holy Ghost, so far as is possible for us to receive it. And for this cause a man would not err, who in this respect also should entitle it a mystery, the utterance whereof is forbidden. For not even unto us, the faithful, hath been committed entire certainty and exactness. Wherefore Paul also said, (1 Co 13:9) “We know in part, and we prophesy in part: for now we see in a mirror darkly; but then face to face.” (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 7.3, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 35)

St. Irenaeus--Christ does not overturn the law, but fulfills it in the Sermon on the Mount:
‎‎‎ And that the Lord did not abrogate the natural [precepts] of the law, by which man is justified, which also those who were justified by faith, and who pleased God, did observe previous to the giving of the law, but that He extended and fulfilled them, is shown from His words. “For,” He remarks, “it has been said to them of old time, Do not commit adultery. But I say unto you, That every one who hath looked upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Mt 5:27, 28) And again: “It has been said, Thou shalt not kill. But I say unto you, Every one who is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Mt 5:21, 22) And, “It hath been said, Thou shalt not forswear thyself. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; but let your conversation be, Yea, yea, and Nay, nay.” (Mt 5:33) And other statements of a like nature. For all these do not contain or imply an opposition to and an overturning of the [precepts] of the past, as Marcion’s followers do strenuously maintain; but [they exhibit] a fulfilling and an extension of them, as He does Himself declare: “Unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:20) For what meant the excess referred to? In the first place, [we must] believe not only in the Father, but also in His Son now revealed; for He it is who leads man into fellowship and unity with God. In the next place, [we must] not only say, but we must do; for they said, but did not. And [we must] not only abstain from evil deeds, but even from the desires after them. Now He did not teach us these things as being opposed to the law, but as fulfilling the law, and implanting in us the varied righteousness of the law. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 4.13.1, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 477)

Tertullian on sins of the will:
‎‎ In fact, how does the Lord demonstrate Himself as adding a superstructure to the Law, except by interdicting sins of the will as well (as other sins); while He defines not only the man who had actually invaded another’s wedlock to be an adulterer, but likewise him who had contaminated (a woman) by the concupiscence of his gaze? (Mt 5:27, 28) Accordingly it is dangerous enough for the mind to set before itself what it is forbidden to perform, and rashly through the will to perfect its execution. And since the power of this will is such that, even without fully sating its self-gratification, it stands for a deed; as a deed, therefore, it shall be punished. It is utterly vain to say, “I willed, but yet I did not.” Rather you ought to carry the thing through, because you will; or else not to will, because you do not carry it through. But, by the confession of your consciousness, you pronounce your own condemnation. For if you eagerly desired a good thing, you would have been anxious to carry it through; in like manner, as you do not carry an evil thing through, you ought not to have eagerly desired it. Wherever you take your stand, you are fast bound by guilt; because you have either willed evil, or else have not fulfilled good. (Tertullian, On Repentance 3, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 659)

St. Augustine on how the righteousness of the Christian must exceed that of the Pharisees:
‎The righteousness of the Pharisees is, that they shall not kill; the righteousness of those who are destined to enter into the kingdom of God, that they be not angry without a cause. The least commandment, therefore, is not to kill; and whosoever shall break that, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall fulfil that commandment not to kill, will not, as a necessary consequence, be great and meet for the kingdom of heaven, but yet he ascends a certain step. He will be perfected, however, if he be not angry without a cause; and if he shall do this, he will be much further removed from murder. For this reason he who teaches that we should not be angry, does not break the law not to kill, but rather fulfils it; so that we preserve our innocence both outwardly when we do not kill, and in heart when we are not angry. (Augustine, De serm. Dom. in mont. 1.9, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 11)

St. John Chrysostom on Mt 5:23, 34:
‎‎First, as I have said, His will is to point out that He highly values charity and considers it to be the greatest sacrifice: and that without it He doth not receive even that other; next, He is imposing such a necessity of reconciliation, as admits of no excuse. For whoso hath been charged not to offer before he be reconciled, will hasten, if not for love of his neighbor, yet, that this may not lie unconsecrated, to run unto him who hath been grieved, and do away the enmity. For this cause He hath also expressed it all most significantly, to alarm and thoroughly to awaken him. Thus, when He had said, “Leave thy gift,” He stayed not at this, but added, “before the altar” (by the very place again causing him to shudder); “and go away.” And He said not merely, “Go away,” but He added, “first, and then come and offer thy gift.” By all these things making it manifest, that this table receives not them that are at enmity with each other. (Chrysostom, Hom. Matt 16.12, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 112)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 58:7–10
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 2:1–5
Gospel Matthew 5:13–16

St. Cyprian of Carthage on Is 58:6-9:
‎He promises that He will be at hand, and says that He will hear and protect those who, loosening the knots of unrighteousness from their heart, and giving alms among the members of God’s household according to His commands, even in hearing what God commands to be done, do themselves also deserve to be heard by God. (Cyprian, De orat. Dom. 33, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 456)

St. Augustine--God himself is the source of our love of neighbor:
‎‎Therefore love thy neighbor; look at the source of thy love of thy neighbor; there thou wilt see, as thou mayest, God. Begin, then, to love thy neighbor. “Break thy bread to the hungry, and bring into thy house him that is needy without shelter; if thou seest the naked, clothe him; and despise not those of the household of thy seed.” And in doing this, what wilt thou get in consequence? “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning light.” (Is 58:7, 8) Thy light is thy God, a “morning light” to thee, because He shall come to thee after the night of this world: for He neither rises nor sets, because He is ever abiding. He will be a morning light to thee on thy return, He who had set for thee on thy falling away from Him. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 17.8, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 114)

Origen--the preaching of the Gospel, unlike the writings of the philosophers, is made effectual by the power of God rather than human wisdom:
‎‎It is easy, indeed, to observe that Plato is found only in the hands of those who profess to be literary men; while Epictetus is admired by persons of ordinary capacity, who have a desire to be benefited, and who perceive the improvement which may be derived from his writings. Now we make these remarks, not to disparage Plato (for the great world of men has found even him useful), but to point out the aim of those who said: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that our faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Co 2:4, 5) For the word of God declares that the preaching (although in itself true and most worthy of belief) is not sufficient to reach the human heart, unless a certain power be imparted to the speaker from God, and a grace appear upon his words; and it is only by the divine agency that this takes place in those who speak effectually. (Origen, Cont. Cels. 6.2, ANF , vol. 4, pg. 573)

St. John Chrysostom on Paul's perseverence in the face of fear and trembling:
‎“How sayest thou? Did Paul also fear dangers?” He did fear, and dreaded them excessively; for though he was Paul, yet he was a man. But this is no charge against Paul, but infirmity of human nature; and it is to the praise of his fixed purpose of mind that when he even dreaded death and stripes, he did nothing wrong because of this fear. So that they who assert that he feared not stripes, not only do not honor him, but rather abridge greatly his praises. For if he feared not, what endurance or what self-restraint was there in bearing the dangers? I, for my part, on this account admire him; because being in fear, and not simply in “fear,” but even in “trembling” at his perils, he so ran as ever to keep his crown; and gave not in for any danger, in his task of purging out the world, and everywhere both by sea and land sowing the Gospel. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 6.2, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 30)

St. Augustine--the Christian's works should shine before men not for his own glory but for God's:
‎‎But again, lest, understanding this wrongly, they should, through fear of pleasing men, be less useful through concealing their goodness, showing for what end they ought to make it known, He says, “Let your works shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5:16) Not, observe, “that ye may be seen by them, that is, in order that their eyes may be directed upon you,”—for of yourselves ye are, nothing,—but “that they may glorify your Father who is in heaven,” by fixing their regards on whom they may become such as ye are. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 5.14.1, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 97)

St. John Chrysostom--Christ does not command us to live for display but to let our virtue be so great that it cannot lie hid:
‎What then? Dost thou command us to live for display and vain glory? Far from it; I say not this; for I did not say, “Give ye diligence to bring forward your own good deeds,” neither did I say, “Show them;” but “Let your light shine.” That is, “Let your virtue be great, and the fire abundant, and the light unspeakable.” For when virtue is so great, it cannot lie hid, though its pursuer shade it over ten thousand fold. Present unto them an irreprehensible life, and let them have no true occasion of evil speaking; and then, though there be thousands of evil-speakers, no man shall be able to cast any shade upon you. And well did He say, “your light,” for nothing makes a man so illustrious, how manifold soever his will to be concealed, as the manifestation of virtue. For as if he were clad with the very sunbeam, so he shines, yet brighter than it; not spending his rays on earth, but surmounting also Heaven itself. (Chrysostom, Hom. Matt. 15.11, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 98-99)