Monday, February 25, 2008

Wisdom from… [25 Feb 08]

ORIGEN OF ALEXANDRIA (185–253): God's way is an ascent

We might suppose a path pointed out by God would be a smooth and pleasant one, free of obstacles and requiring no effort from the traveler, but in fact God's way is an ascent, a tortuous and rugged climb. There can be no downhill road to virtue—it is uphill all the way, and the path is narrow and arduous. Listen also to the Lord's warning in the gospel: The way that leads to life, he says, is narrow and hard. Notice how close the agreement is between the gospel and the law. In the law the way of virtue is shown to be a tortuous climb; the gospels speak of the way that leads to life as narrow and hard. Is it not obvious then, even to the blind, that the law and the gospels were both written by one and the same Spirit?

And so the road they followed was a winding ascent, an ascent surmounted by a beacon. The ascent refers to works and the beacon to faith, so that we can see the great difficulty and laborious effort involved in both faith and works. Many are the temptations we shall meet and many the obstacles to faith that lie in store for us in our desire to pursue the things of God.
(Hom. in Exodo 5, 3-4: Edit. Maurist. 2, 145-146.)

Origen became head of the catechetical school of Alexandria and devoted his life to the study of scripture, leaving behind voluminous scriptural commentaries and syntheses, mostly dominated by the analogical exegesis.

ST AUGUSTINE: Temptations out of the Past

Lord, you command me to be continent. You have commanded me to abstain from concubinage, and in place of marriage itself––which you permit––you have counseled something better.

Since you granted this to me, it has been fulfilled even before I became a dispenser of your sacrament. Yet, in my memory, of which I have said many things, there still live images of such things as my former habits implanted there.
-- Confessions 10, 30

Prayer. Your hand, O God Almightly, is able to heal all the infirmities of my soul.
-- Confessions 10, 30


It is a difficult thing to have an exact idea of one's goal, but it is likewise true that all of us must perfectly pinpoint the virtue we are aiming to acquire. However, if we cannot do this, we must not lose courage or get upset; we must get as close to the goal as possible, because even the saints did not succeed in doing any more than that. Only Our Lord and the virgin most holy fully succeeded.
(Spiritual Conferences IV; O. VI, pp. 59-60)


NOTHING is important except the fate of the soul; and literature is only redeemed from an utter triviality, surpassing that of naughts and crosses, by the fact that it describes not the world around us, or the things on the retina of the eye, or the enormous irrelevancy of encyclopaedias, but some condition to which the human spirit can come.
(Introduction to ' The Old Curiosity Shop.')

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