Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wisdom from... [January 14]

JULIAN OF VEZELAY** (1080 - 1160):

The Word of God did not remake his creatures as easily as he made them. He made them by simply giving a command; he remade them by dying. He made them by commanding; he remade them by suffering.

"You have burdened me," he told them, "with your sinning. To direct and govern the whole fabric of the world is no effort for me, for I have power to reach from one end of the earth to the other and to order all things as I please. It is only human beings, with their obstinate disregard for the law I laid down for them, who have caused me distress by their sins. That is why I came down from my royal throne, why I did not shrink from enclosing myself in the Virgin's womb nor from entering into a personal union with poor lost humanity. A new born babe in swaddling bands, I lay in a manger, since the Creator of the world could find no room in the inn."

And so there came a deep silence. Everything was still. The voices of the prophets and apostles were hushed, since the prophets had already delivered their message, while the time for the apostles' preaching had yet to come. Between these two proclamations a period of silence intervened, and in the midst of this silence the Father's almighty Word leaped down from his royal throne.
Sermo de Nativitate: SC 192, 52.60.

** Julian of Vezelay was a Benedictine monk noted for the sermons he gave in the chapterhouse of his monastery to stimulate monastic observance and asceticism.

ST. AUGUSTINE: Dreams and Reality

A beggar, lying on the bare ground and trembling from cold, falls asleep and dreams of treasures; in his dream he rejoices and grows arrogant, and will not even spare a glance for his own father who is clothed in rags.

As long as he has not awakened he is rich; but the greater the empty joy he experiences in sleep, the more, when he awakens, will he suffer from reality.

[What can you and I do for the beggars we meet in our lives? How can we bring their dreams into reality, even to a small degree? Open your eyes and we will find out. -- EBB]

-- Sermon 345, 1

Prayer. O happy home! O land of safety! May I dwell there in security!

-- Sermon 217, 2


We must not voluntarily nourish a desire to continue and persevere in venial sin of any kind. It would be an extremely foolish thing to wish deliberately to retain in our heart anything so displeasing to God as a will to offend Him.
(INT. Part I, Ch. 22; O. III, p. 63)


THE old masters of a healthy madness -- Aristophanes or Rabelais or Shakespeare -- doubtless had many brushes with the precisians** or ascetics of their day, but we cannot but feel that for honest severity and consistent self-maceration they would always have had respect. But what abysses of scorn, inconceivable to any modern, would they have reserved for an aesthetic type and movement which violated morality and did not even find pleasure, which outraged sanity and could not attain to exuberance, which contented itself with the fool's cap without the bells.
'The Defendant.'

** A precisian: one who is strict and precise in adherence to established rules, forms, or standards, especially with regard to religious observance or moral behavior; a Puritan.

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