Monday, September 27, 2004

Christian Heritage - September 23-26

Show Generosity to Others - September 23

"Recognize who it is that gave you existence, life, understanding, and what is greater still, knowledge of God, hope of the kingdom of heaven, and the vision of glory, which now is dim, as in a mirror, but which will one day be full and clear. Recognize who it is that made you a child of God, a coheir with Christ, and, if I dare say it, divine yourself. Where have all these blessings come from, who gave them to you?

"Or to speak of lesser things, those you see with your eyes, who gave you the power to behold the beauty of the heavens, the sun in its course, the moon, the myriad of stars with the harmony and order that are theirs like the music of a lyre? Who has blessed you with rain, crops to cultivate, food, arts and crafts, homes, laws, organized society, civilized life with friendship and family ties?

"Was it not God, whose first request to us now is that we should show generosity in return? Having already received so much from him and hoping for so much more, we should surely be ashamed to refuse God the one thing he asks of us, which is to show generosity to others. When he, our Lord and God, is not ashamed to be called our Father, can we repudiate our own kith and kin?"

Gregory Nazianzen (AD 329-389), Oratio 14, De pauperum amore 23-25: PG 35, 887-890

Gregory was one of the three great Cappadocian Fathers whose preaching helped to restore the Nicene faith and led to its final acceptance by the Council of Constantinople in 381.

All Our Love Must Be Fraternal - September 24

"To widen our hearts we need not depend upon ourselves. Ask God to help you love one another — to love everyone without exception, not just your friends but enemies as well; not because they are your brothers and sisters in Christ, but so that they may be. Pray that you may always have a warm fraternal love for other people, both for those who have become your brothers and sisters, and for your enemies that they may become such. Whenever you love brothers or sisters you love friends, for they are already with you, joined to you in Catholic unity. If they live virtuously you love them as people who have been changed from enemies into brothers and sisters. But suppose you love people who do not yet believe in Christ, or if they do, yet believe as the devil believes — they believe in Christ but still do not love him. You must love just the same, you must love even people like that, you must love them as brothers and sisters. They are not such yet, but you must love them so that they become such through your kindness. All our love, then, must be fraternal."

Caesarius of Arles, Sermo 137, 5-6: CCL 103, 1, 568

Caesarius was the archbishop of Arles, was very much influenced by Saint Augustine and combated semi-pelagianism at the Council of Orange in 529.

Rest in Heaven - September 25

"Love brings joy because the more it increases the more generously it gives. Consequently, while their acquisitions impoverish those who desire evil, charitable givers are enriched by their gifts. The greedy are troubled, seeking revenge for injuries inflicted on them; the charitable are at peace, delighting to forgive any harm done to them. The avaricious avoid practicing the works of mercy, while the charitable perform them cheerfully. The object of the avaricious is to injure their neighbors; the charitable do them no harm. By self-exaltation the greedy sink down into hell; by humbling themselves the charitable ascend to heaven.

"But when shall I ever be able fittingly to sing the praises of love, which is not solitary in heaven or bereft on earth? For on earth it is fed by the words of God; in heaven it is filled by the words of God. On earth it has the company of friends, in heaven the fellowship of angels. It toils in the world; it finds rest in heaven."

Fulgentius of Ruspe (AD 468-533), Sermo 5, 6: CCL 91A, 923

Fulgentius was the bishop of Ruspe in northern Africa, was a faithful disciple of Augustine and the best theologian of his time.

Eyes Only For the Sick - September 26

"As soon as Jesus crossed the threshold he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying ill in bed with a fever. On entering the house he immediately saw what he had come for. He was not interested in the comfort the house itself could offer, nor the crowds awaiting his arrival, nor the formal welcome prepared for him, nor the assembled household. Still less did he look for any outward signs of preparation for his reception. All he had eyes for was the spectacle of a sick woman, lying there consumed with a raging fever. At a glance he saw her desperate plight, and at once stretched out his hands to perform their divine work of healing; nor would he sit down to satisfy his human needs before he had made it possible for the stricken woman to rise up and serve her God. So he took her by the hand, and the fever left her. Here you see how fever loosens its grip on a person whose hand is held by Christ's; no sickness can stand its ground in the face of the very source of health. Where the Lord of life has entered, there is no room for death."

Peter Chrysologus, (AD 400-450), bishop of Ravenna, Sermo 18: PL 52, 246-247

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