Sunday, August 29, 2004

Christian Heritage - August 26-29

August 26 - By the Cross the Martyrs Were Strengthened

"We who worship Christ on the cross must try to grasp the greatness of his power and all the wonders he has wrought through the cross on our behalf; the holy David says: Our God and eternal King has wrought salvation throughout the world. For through the cross the nations were caught as in a net and the seeds of faith were sown everywhere. With the cross, as though with a plow, the disciples of Christ cultivated the unfruitful nature of humankind, revealed the Church's ever-green pastures, and gathered in an abundant harvest of believers in Christ. By the cross the martyrs were strengthened, and as they fell they smote down those who struck them. Through the cross Christ became known, and the Church of the faithful, with the scriptures ever open before her, introduces us to this same Christ, the Son of God, who is truly God and truly Lord, and who cries out: Any who wish to come after me must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."


Andrew of Crete (AD 660-720), Oratio 1 in exaltatione crucis: PG 97, 1041-1045

Andrew was a Damascene monk in Jerusalem who represented his patriarch at the Third Council of Constantinople. He was a remarkable orator and one of the principal hymnographers of the Eastern Church.

August 27 - Remember Monica, My Mother

"May Monica, my mother, rest in peace with her husband, before whom and after whom she was given in marriage to no man. She dutifully served him, bringing forth fruit to you with much patience, that she might also win him to you. Inspire, O Lord my God, inspire your servants my brethren, your children my master, whom I serve with my voice, my heart, and my writings, that as many of them as read these words may remember at your altar your handmaid, Monica, together with Patricius, formerly her husband, by whose flesh you brought me into this life, how I know not. May they with a pious affection remember them who were my parents in this transitory light, my brethren under you, our Father in our Catholic mother, and my fellow citizens in the eternal Jerusalem, for which your pilgrim people here below continually sigh from their setting out until their return, so that my mother's last request of me may be more abundantly granted by her through the prayers of many, occasioned by my confessions, rather than through my own prayers."

Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430), Confessions IX, 13, 36-37

O God, please also remember my mother, the quirkiest of saints and one of my closest sisters in You.

August 28 - Preaching is Sharing

"Many people seek to discover God's mercy and faithfulness from the sacred books, and yet, when their learning is done, they live for their own sakes and not for God's. They are intent on their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. They preach mercy and faithfulness without practicing them. Their preaching proves that they know their subject, for they would not preach without knowledge. But it is a different matter in the case of someone who loves God and Christ. When such a person preaches God's mercy and faithfulness, he seeks to make them known for God's sake, not his own. This means that he is not out to gain temporal benefits from his preaching; his desire is to help Christ's members, that is, those who believe in him, by faithfully sharing with them the knowledge he himself possesses, so that the living may no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for all."

Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430), Expositions of the Psalms 60, 9: CCL 39, 771

August 28 is St. Augustine’s feast day, commemorating his death and, more than that, his holy life. Also, I’m happy to report, August 28 is my brother Hunter’s birthday. (I checked the calendar and I’m still older than him, so all is in order.) In addition, August 28 is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s (1749-1832) birthday and the memorial for the March on Washington (1963) when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. Quite a day, innit?

August 29 - The Pledge of the Inheritance

"Even while still in this world they enter his palace, the dwelling-place of the angels and the spirits of the saints. For although they are not yet in possession of that perfect inheritance prepared for them in the age to come, they are as fully assured of it through the pledge they have received here on earth as though they were already crowned, already reigning.

"Christians find nothing strange in the fact that they are destined to reign in the world to come, since they have known the mysteries of grace beforehand.
When man transgressed the commandment, the devil shrouded the soul with a covering of darkness. But with the coming of grace the veil is entirely stripped away, so that with clear eyes the soul, now cleansed and restored to its true nature, which was created pure and blameless, ever clearly beholds the glory of the true light, the true Sun of Righteousness, brilliantly shining in its inmost being."

Macarius of Egypt (attributed) (4th-5th century), Hom. XVII, 3-4: PG 34, 625-626

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