Monday, February 18, 2008

Wisdom from… [17 & 18 Feb]

POPE ST LEO (400–461): Lent: a special time of renewal

The paschal celebration is especially characterized by the rejoicing of the whole Church in the forgiveness of sins. This forgiveness is given not only to those then reborn in holy baptism but also to those already numbered among God's adopted children.

Although we receive new life in the first place by our rebirth in baptism, we all need a daily renewal to make up for the shortcomings of our mortal nature, and no matter how much progress we have made, every one of us is called to greater holiness. We should therefore make a real effort not to let the day of our redemption find us still falling into the same old sins.

What the Christian should be doing at all times should be done now with greater zeal and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the apostles may be observed not simply by abstinence from food but above all by the renunciation of sin.
(Sermo 6 de Quadragesima 1-2: PL 54, 286)

As bishop of Rome, St. Leo left many letters and sermons to attest to his teaching and preaching.

ST MAXIMUS THE CONFESSOR (580–662): God's desire for our salvation

God's will is to save us, and nothing pleases him more than our coming back to him with true repentance. The heralds of truth and the ministers of divine grace have told us this from the beginning, repeating it in every age. Indeed, God's desire for our salvation is the primary and preeminent sign of his infinite goodness, and it was precisely in order to show that there is nothing closer to God's heart that the divine Word of God the Father, with untold condescension, lived among us in the flesh, and that he died, suffered, and said all that was necessary to reconcile us to God the Father when we were at enmity with him, and to restore us to the life of blessedness from which we had been exiled. He healed our physical infirmities by miracles; he freed us from our sins, many and grievous as they were, by suffering and dying, taking them upon himself as if he were answerable for them, sinless though he was. He also taught us in many different ways that we should wish to imitate him by our own kindness and genuine love for one another.
(Ep. 11: PG 91, 454-455.)

Maximus, a Greek theologian and ascetic, was a monk of the monastery of Chrysopolis and also a prolific writer who possessed an outstanding synthesizing faculty. His right hand and tongue were cut off to prevent him from further defending Christological orthodoxy and he died in exile.


You Approached Me

O eternal Truth and true Love and beloved Eternity: you are my God, and for you do I sigh night and day. When I first began to know you, you lifted me up that I might see that there was something to be seen--but I was as yet not able to see it. Then you drove back the weakness of my sight, shining upon me most powerfully, and I shook with love and fear.
-- Confessions 7, 10

Prayer. Lord, you first sought me out and brought me back on your shoulder.
-- Commentary on Psalm 69, 6

The Inner Light

I entered into my inmost self with you, Lord, as my guide; and this I was able to do because you were my helper. I entered in and saw with the eye of my soul, the unchangeable Light, very different from earthly lights.

It was above my mind but not the way oil is above water or heaven above the earth. It was superior because it made me, and I inferior because I was made by it. Those who know the truth know this light, and those who know it know eternity: it is charity that knows it.
-- Confessions 7, 10

Prayer. Lord, you are the light of my heart and the bread in the mouth of my soul.
-- Confessions 1, 13


Take for yourself the maxim of the apostle, "May I never boast of anything but the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ!" [Gal 6:14] Put Jesus crucified in your heart, and all the crosses of this world will seem to be roses. Those who have felt the punctures of the crown of thorns of the Savior Who is our Head will in no way feel any other wounds.
(Letters 1420; O. XVIII, p. 221)

Our Savior has instituted the most august sacrament of the Eucharist, which really contains His flesh and blood, so that whoever eats of it shall live forever. Therefore, whoever turns to it frequently and devoutly builds up his soul's health in such a way that is is almost impossible for him to be poisoned by evil infection of any kind. We cannot be nourished by this flesh of life and still suffer death within us. Just as the first man and woman dwelling in the earthly paradise might have avoided bodily death by the power of that living fruit which God had planted in it, so also can we avoid spiritual death by virtue of this sacrament of life. Tender fruits such as cherries, apricots and strawberries are subject to subject to decay, yet they are easily preserved for a whole year with sugar or honey. Is there any wonder then, that our heart, no matter how frail and weak, is preserved from the corruption of sin when sweetened by the incorruptible flesh and blood of the Son of God?
(INT. Part II, Ch. 20; O. III, p. 116)


SOME people do not like the word 'dogma.' Fortunately they are free, and there is an alternative for them. There are two things, and two things only, for the human mind––a dogma and a prejudice. The Middle Ages were a rational epoch, an age of doctrine. Our age is, at its best, a poetical epoch, an age of prejudice. A doctrine is a definite point; a prejudice is a direction. That an ox may be eaten, while a man should not be eaten, is a doctrine. That as little as possible of anything should be eaten is a prejudice; which is also sometimes called an ideal.
('What's Wrong with the World.')

THERE are some people who state that the exterior, sex, or physique of another person is indifferent to them, that they care only for the communion of mind with mind; but these people need not detain us. There are some statements that no one ever thinks of believing, however often they are made.
('The Defendant.')

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