Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wisdom from… (21 Mar)

CYPRIAN OF CARTHAGE (ca. 285): Christ's patience

Christ did not govern his disciples as a master rules his slaves. He was kind and gentle, loving them as brothers, even washing the feet of the apostles, showing by his example how a servant should bear himself toward his equals when his master dealt in such a way with his servants. No wonder he could show such goodness to the disciples who obeyed him, if he was able to bear so long and so patiently with Judas, eating and drinking with his enemy, recognizing the foe in his own household yet neither exposing him publicly nor refusing his treacherous kiss.

At the time of his passion and cross, even before it had gone as far as the inhuman crucifixion and the shedding of his blood, how patiently he bore reviling and reproach, insult and mockery! A little while before, he had cured the eyes of a blind man with his spittle, yet now he allowed his tormentors to spit in his face. His servants today scourge the devil and his angels in the name of Christ, but at the time of his passion Christ himself submitted to being scourged. He crowns the martyrs with never-fading flowers, though he himself was crowned with thorns. He was struck in the face with the palms of men's hands, yet it is he who awards the palm of victory to all who overcome. Others he clothes in the garment of immortality, yet he himself was stripped of his earthly garments. He had fed them with bread from heaven, yet he himself was fed with gall; and he who had poured out the saving cup was offered vinegar to drink.

He the innocent, he the just, he rather who is the embodiment of innocence and justice, is counted among evil-doers. Truth is confuted by false evidence. The future judge is subjected to judgment; the Word of God is led to the cross in silence. At the Lord's crucifixion the stars are thrown into confusion, the elements are disturbed, earth trembles, and night swallows up day. But he himself is silent, unmoved, hiding every sign of his Godhead throughout the whole duration of his passion. Enduring all things, he perseveres to the end, so that in him patience may be brought to its full measure of perfection.
(The Virtue of Patience 6-7: CSEL 3, 401-402.)

Cyprian was bishop of Carthage in Northern Africa, and had a keen sense of the unity of the Church.

The power and beauty of these words speak for themselves. Read the passage again.

ST AUGUSTINE: Christ's Cross Abides Forever

The saving serpent in Moses' time was fashioned from bronze as a symbol of faith in the enduring effects of the Lord's Passion. Faith in Christ's cross abides forever; it is as enduring as bronze. Despite the constant cycle of birth and death, the cross continues to be held high above the earth for the healing of all who gaze upon it.
-- Commentary on Galatians 22

Prayer. How great was your love for us, kind Father! You did not spare your only-begotten Son but surrendered him for the sake of us sinners!
-- Confessions 10, 43


The means necessary to build a spiritual edifice and acquire the precious pearl of perfection is the entire renunciation of ourselves and our own will––nothing else. This involves breaking away from all our evil inclinations and aversions. In fact, it is absolutely certain that perfection can be attained in no other way.
(Sermons II; O. IX, p. 82)

Fight your own worst enemy––yourself––by giving yourself to your own true self––Christ. We were all created to be personal recitals of the one hymn of divine glory called Jesus Christ. Without Him, we are as pianos trying to play their own blueprints.


MODERN and cultured persons, I believe, object to their children seeing kitchen company or being taught by a woman like Peggotty [in David Copperfield]. But surely it is more important to be educated in a sense of human dignity and equality than in anything else in the world. And a child who has once had to respect a kind and capable woman of the lower classes will respect the lower classes for ever. The true way to overcome the evil in class distinctions is not to denounce them as revolutionists denounce them, but to ignore them as children ignore them.
('Charles Dickens.')

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