Friday, March 7, 2008

Wisdom from… [6 Mar]

CYPRIAN OF CARTHAGE (ca. 285): Praying with the words that Jesus taught us

With the same generosity that made the Lord give us everything else, the Giver of our life instructed us in how to pray, so that by using the words taught us by the Son we might more readily gain a hearing from the Father.

He had already foretold that the hour was coming when true worshipers would worship the Father in spirit and in truth and he has fulfilled this promise, for we who by his sanctifying action and by his teaching have received the Spirit and the truth are capable now of giving him true and spiritual worship.

What prayer could be more spiritual than the one given us by Christ, who sent us the Holy Spirit? What prayer would more surely have the ring of truth to the Father's ear than the one uttered by the Son who is the truth? To pray otherwise than as he taught us would be not merely ignorant but blameworthy, as we are warned by his own saying: You reject the command of God to set up your own tradition.

Let us pray, then, as our divine teacher has taught us. The prayer that uses his own words, sending up to him the petitions of Christ himself, has a pleasing and familiar sound to God. Let the Father recognize in our prayer the words of his Son.
(The Lord's Prayer 1-3: CSEL 3, 267-268.)

A bishop of Carthage in Northern Africa, Cyprian had a keen sense of the unity of the Church. He differed with Pope Stephen about the non-necessity of rebaptism for lapsed Christians under persecution (lapsi), but eventually conceded to the Pope's position, that of not requiring rebaptism.

ST AUGUSTINE: Jesus Overcame the Curse

Jesus overcame the curse on the human race by taking it upon his own person. He vanquished death by undergoing death himself, sin by indentifying himself with sin, and the ancient serpent by another serpent. Death, sin, and the serpent were all included in God's curse on the human race after the first sin, but the cross has triumphed over each of them.
-- Commentary on Galatians 22

Prayer. You are the truest Lord. You are not like lords who buy with their wallets, but the Lord who buys with blood. You give me the strength of salvation.
-- Commentary on Psalm 139, 11


Do not get upset about the dryness and coldness you are suffering; be consoled in the depths of your heart, remembering the words of our Lord, "How blest are the poor in spirit…. Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness..." [Mt. 5:3-6]. How happy you should be to serve God in the desert, without manna and without water, consoled only by the fact that He is guiding your and you are suffering for Him.
(Letters 1986; O. XXI, p. 25)


IN a very entertaining work, over which we have roared in childhood, it is stated that a point has no parts and no magnitude. Humility is the luxurious art of reducing ourselves to a point, not to a small thing or a large one, but to a thing with no size at all, so that to it all the cosmic things are what they really are––of immeasurable stature.
('The Defendant.')

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