Friday, January 25, 2008

Wisdom from… [25 Jan.]

John Henry Newman** (1801–1890): Paul's conversion

Herein is Saint Paul's conversion memorable: that it was a triumph over the enemy. When Almighty God would convert the world, opening the door of faith to the Gentiles, who was the chosen preacher of this mystery? Not one of Christ's first followers. To show his power, he put forth his hand into the very midst of the persecutors of his Son, and seized upon the most strenuous among them. The prayer of a dying man, Stephen, is the token and occasion of that triumph which he had reserved for himself. His strength is made perfect in weakness.

It was a triumph over the enemies of Christ; but it was also an expressive emblem of the nature of God's general dealings with the race of man. What are we all but rebels against God and enemies of the truth? Who then could so appropriately fulfill the purpose of him who came to call sinners to repentance, as one who esteemed himself the least of the apostles, that was not meet to be called an apostle, because he had persecuted the Church of God? When Almighty God in his infinite mercy purposed to form a people to himself out of the heathen, as vessels for this glory, first he chose the instrument of this his purpose as a brand from the burning, to be a type of the rest.
(Plain and Parochial Sermons II, 97-98.)

** Newman was a famous preacher in the Church of England and after his reception into the Catholic Church he continued preaching and writing and later was made a cardinal.

ST AUGUSTINE: The Faith of Abraham

Let us every day do our best to advance in God, and to be unsparing with the transitory possessions we are going to leave behind us in this world. Let us pay attention to Abraham's faith, because he was also our father. Let us imitate his devotion and faith.

We are Christians, and strangers on earth. Let none of us be frightened; our native land is not in this world.
-- Sermon 16A, 13

Prayer. God examines both rich and poor, not according to their lands and houses, but according to the riches of their hearts.
-- Commentary on Psalm 48 (1), 3


I desire very little, and what I do desire I desire very little; I have hardly any desires, but if I were to begin my life all over again I would want to have none at all…. Ask for nothing, refuse nothing; we must simply abandon ourselves into the hands of Providence, without nourishing any other desire but to do whatever God wills. St. Paul practiced this act of absolute abandonment at the very moment of his conversion. When he was deprived of his sight, he immediately said, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" [cf. Act 22:10] From that moment on he put himself completely at God's disposal. All our perfection consists precisely in the practical application of this principle.
(Spiritual Treatises XXI, O. VI, pp. 383-384)


SILENCE is the unbearable repartee.
('Charles Dickens.')

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