Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Christian Heritage - August 9 - Building Up Virtue

"If you saw a person completely destroying some house, and he swore to you that he was building the house, would you not consider him demented and out of his mind, or perhaps that he was trying to tease you? But what, I ask, shall we say of you, O Christian, when you destroy spiritual gifts and virtues, knock them to the ground, yet say you want to be saved? Are you teasing or joking? The way to heaven is not to destroy virtues, but to build them up. You already know that to seek riches thoughtlessly is the way to hell on account of dangers inherent in them. And yet as you struggle to accumulate riches you say: I desire and long to be saved. You are playing a trick on us, or at least trying to. You wish to say with the reprobate: Blessed is the people to whom riches abound. On the contrary, I say: Happy is the one whose God is the Lord."

Ouch, dang, this isn't pulling any punches. Thank God for Thomas's honesty. It's like Doug Wilson said in his book, *Fidelity*: "A man cannot simultaneously desire the salvation of God and remain in the sin from which God saves him." But, oh, wouldn't we like to have it both ways. Repent, repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!

Thomas of Villanova, O.S.A. (AD 1486-1555), Thursday after the Second Sunday of Lent, Sermon 1,7: Opera Omnia I, 506

Thomas was an Augustinian friar and the archbishop of Valencia. He became known as the Beggar Bishop and father of the poor for his devotion to the poor. His many sermons had an influence on Spanish spiritual literature.

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