Friday, January 18, 2008

Wisdom from… [17 Jan.]

SEVERIAN OF GABALA** (d. p. 408): Who is Christ?

If then you wish to learn or be taught something about Christ, do not resort to arguments or cross-examine some person of great learning, but inquire of a prophet, ask an apostle, consult an angel, and if these should be at a loss, have recourse to the Father. If you inquire of the prophets, "Who is this Christ?" the prophetic choir will answer you, This is our God; no other can be compared to him. He has found out the whole way of knowledge and imparted it to Jacob his servant, to Israel his beloved. At last he appeared on earth and lived among us. Perhaps you will pursue your investigation, asking, "But who is this Christ, and how was he born?" You may indulge your busy curiosity about the divine child, and if so the prophets will curb your boldness, asking you in their turn, "What our reasoning could not compass, do you think to compass? If you wish to learn, learn that he is God. You presume to pry into the manner of his birth, but you must learn from our words: Who shall recount his origin?"
(De Incarnatione Domini 1: PG 59, 687-689.)

** Severian, orator and bishop of Gabala in Syria, "et vir in divinis Scripturis eruditus et in homiilis declamator admirabilis fuit" (Gennadius, "De script. eccles.", xxi, in P.L., LVIII, 1073), was a strong opponent of Saint John Chrysostom and an exegete of the strict Antiochene school.

ST. AUGUSTINE: Possess What You Need

My brothers and sisters, seek what is enough for God's work, not what is sufficient for your greediness. Your greediness is no work of God. Your self, your body, your soul, this is all God's work. Inquire what is enough for them, and you shall see how little it is.
-- Commentary on Psalm 147, 12

This is why I say, "The word 'need' is the most overused word in the world." Every time you say "need", try replacing it with "want" and see if it makes any difference. It will.

Prayer. Lord, those are your best servants who wish to shape their life on your answers rather than shape your answers to their wishes.
-- Confessions 10, 26


Considered in themselves, tribulations certainly cannot be loved, but considered in their origin, namely in the Providence of the Divine Will which has brought them about, they are to be loved with an infinite love. Just consider Moses' staff: laid on the ground, it was a ferocious serpent; in the hands of Moses it was a wonder-working wand. In like manner, tribulations in themselves are terrible, but considered as a manifestation of the will of God they are indications of love and delight. Likewise, love either removes the harshness of the trial or renders it lovable.
(T.L.G. Book 3, Ch. 2; O. V, pp. 112-113)


THERE are vast prospects and splendid songs in the point of view of the typically unsuccessful man; if all the used-up actors and spoilt journalists and broken clerks could give a chorus it would be a wonderful chorus in praise of the world.
(Introduction to 'Nicholas Nickleby')

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