As God's Son Christ was unchangeably the perfect image of the Father; as the architect of creation he had no lack of power; as the lover of mercy he revealed an unsurpassable depth of compassion; as high priest he enjoyed such prestige and dignity that he could stand in the presence of God. Who then could ever find another in any way equal or comparable to him? Ponder his love for us. Condemned to death of his own free will, he released those who crucified him from sentence of death and turned the sin of his murderers into sinners' salvation.
He came to save, yet he had to suffer. Emmanuel, being God, became man. What he was eternally saved us; what he became suffered. He who is in the bosom of the Father is also in the womb of the Virgin. He who lies in the arms of his mother also walks on the wings of the winds. On high he is adored by angels; here below he eats with tax collectors.
Oh what a mystery! I see his wonderful deeds and so proclaim his divinity; I contemplate his sufferings, and so cannot deny his humanity.
(De laudibus Sanctae Mariae, Sermo 1, 4-6: PG 65, 683-687.)
Patriarch of Constantinople, Proclus was renowned as a preacher and wrote much on Mary, the Mother of God.
Gilbert of Hoyland** (~1172): Jesus teaches
How blessed and virtuous is the spiritual intoxication that gives us time and opportunity to contemplate our beloved! Yet what we see has a dreamlike quality, because this kind of vision is not the result of human will or effort, nor of any searching on our part; it is something that dawns upon us like a visitation from heaven.
Whose voice can be compared with the voice of Jesus? His teaching and precepts comprise the sum total of perfection, and his voice has the power to stir its hearers to the heart. It penetrates like a two-edged sword, enabling his message to flow into the heart with a gentle persuasion such as no other teaching has ever been able to command. He makes no high-sounding speeches, yet his words reveal the deep mystery of the Godhead.
In times past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son, with the strong, powerful accents of a lover.
(On the Song of Songs, Sermo 42, 1-4: PL 184, 221-222.)
A Cistercian, Gilbert wrote in the style of Saint Bernard, whose commentary on the Song of Songs he completed.
ST AUGUSTINE: The Treasures of Scripture
The depth of the Christian Scriptures is boundless. Even if I were attempting to study them and nothing else, from boyhood to decrepit old age, with the utmost leisure, the most unwearied zeal, and with talents greater than I possess, I would still be making progress in discovering their treasures.
-- Letter 137, 3
Prayer. O Lord my God, let my soul praise you that it may love you. Let it recount to you your mercies that it may praise you for them all.
-- Confessions 5, 1
The Grace of God
Previously I had tried hard to uphold the freedom of choice of the human will; but the grace of God had the upper hand.
The Apostle Paul stated the most obvious truth, when he said: "What have you got that you did not first receive? If you have received all this, why glory in it as if you had not been given it?" [I Cor. 4:7]
-- Revisions 2, 27
Prayer. I thank you, Lord, my joy and my glory, my hope and my God. I thank you for your gifts to me. Keep them unharmed for me: they will be the making of me, and I shall be with you for my being is your gift.
-- Confessions 1, 20
[What a wonderful statement: My gifts will be the making of me, and I shall be with you for my being is your most basic gift me!]
ST FRANCIS DE SALES:
Our Lord Jesus Christ died for love of us, so we should, if required, be prepared to die for Him. Even if we cannot die for love of Him, we can at least live for Him alone. If we do not live for Him alone, we are really the most treacherous and ungrateful of creatures. Then is it true that the Divine Redeemer died for us?...Yes, He died nailed to the cross to give us life. Those die who do not imitate him, since there is neither death nor resurrection apart from the One on the cross.
(Sermons 65; O. X, p. 364)
State openly that you desire to be devout. I do not say that you should assert that you are devout but that you desire to be devout. Do not be ashamed to practice the ordinary, necessary actions that bring us to the love of God. Acknowledge frankly that you are trying to meditate, that you would rather die than commit a mortal sin, that you are resolved to frequent the sacraments and to follow your director's advice. This candid confession of our desire to serve God and to consecrate ourselves entirely to His love is most acceptable to His Divine Majesty.
(INT. V, Ch. 18; O. III, p. 365)
HAPPINESS is a mystery like religion, and should never be rationalized. Suppose a man experiences a really splendid moment of pleasure. I do not mean something connected with a piece of enamel, I mean something with a violent happiness in it -- an almost painful happiness. A man may have, for instance, a moment of ecstasy in first love, or a moment of victory in battle. The lover enjoys the moment, but precisely not for the moment's sake. He enjoys it for the woman's sake, or his own sake. The warrior enjoys the moment, but not for the sake of the moment; he enjoys it for the sake of the flag. The cause which the flag stands for may be foolish and fleeting; the love may be calf-love, and last for a week. But the patriot thinks of the flag as eternal; the lover thinks of his love as something that cannot end. These moments are filled with eternity; these moments are joyful because they do not seem momentary. Once look at them as moments after Pater's manner, and they become as cold as Pater and his style. Man cannot love mortal things. He can only love immortal things for an instant.
IT is remarkable that in so many great wars it is the defeated who have won. The people who were left worst at the end of the war were generally the people who were left best at the end of the whole business. For instance, the Crusades ended in the defeat of the Christians. But they did not end in the decline of the Christians; they ended in the decline of the Saracens. That huge prophetic wave of Moslem power which had hung in the very heavens above the towns of Christendom: that wave was broken, and never came on again. The Crusades had saved Paris in the act of losing Jerusalem. The same applies to that epic of Republican war in the eighteenth century to which we Liberals owe our political creed. The French Revolution ended in defeat; the kings came back across a carpet of dead at Waterloo. The Revolution had lost its last battle, but it had gained its first object. It had cut a chasm. The world has never been the same since.