Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wisdom from… [5 Mar]

ST AMBROSE OF MILAN (339–397): Love is strong as death

Fasten this sign of the Crucified upon your breast and your heart, fasten it upon your arm, so that in all your actions you may be dead to sin. Do not be dismayed by the hardness of the nails; it is no more than the severity of love. Do not complain of their unbreakable firmness; love also is strong as death. It is love that puts to death all our sins and failings, love that deals their death blow. In a word, by loving the Lord's commandments we die to sin and to deeds of shame. God is love; his word is love, that word which is all-powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, penetrating to the point where soul is divided from spirit or joints from marrow. Our soul and our flesh must be transfixed by the nails of love, and then we ourselves can say: I am wounded by love. Love has its own nail and its own sword with which to pierce the human soul; happy are they who are wounded by them. Let us willingly expose ourselves to these wounds; if we succumb to them, we shall not taste everlasting death. Let us take up our Lord's cross, the cross on which our unregenerate selves must be crucified and sin destroyed.
(In ps. 118, 15, 37-40: PL 15, 1497-1498.)

Bishop of Milan, Ambrose was a noted preacher and writer. He baptized Saint Augustine of Hippo.

ST AUGUSTINE: Our All-powerful Physician

Our wound is serious, but the Physician is all-powerful. Does it seem to you so small a mercy that, while you were living in evil and sinning, he did not take away your life, but brought you to belief and forgave your sins? What I suffer is serious, but I trust the Almighty. I would despair of my mortal wound if I had not found so great a Physician.
-- Sermon 352, 3

Prayer. Bring relief to a serious wound with your great medicine. Mine is serious, but I take refuge in the Almighty.
-- Commentary on Psalm 50, 6


Do not limit your patience to putting up with only some kinds of injuries or afflictions, but accept all those which God sends you or lets happen to you. There are some who want to put up with only honorable afflictions, such as being wounded at war, persecuted for the faith of the like. These people love tribulations only because of the honor that goes with them.
(INT. Part III, Ch. 3; O. III, p. 134)


PROGRESS should mean that we are always walking towards the New Jerusalem. [Understood in a modernist, secular sense, it] does mean that the New Jerusalem is always walking away from us. We are not altering the real to suit the ideal. We are altering the ideal: it is easier.

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