Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wisdom from… [5 & 6 Apr]

MELITO OF SARDIS (ca. 190): I am your forgiveness

Although he was the Lord, Christ clothed himself in human nature. He suffered for the sake of those who suffer, he was bound for those in bonds, condemned for the guilty, buried for those who lie in the grave; but he rose from the dead, and cried aloud: Who will contend with me? Let him confront me. I have freed the condemned, brought the dead back to life, raised those who were buried. Who has anything to say against me? I, he said, am the Christ; I have destroyed death, triumphed over the enemy, trampled hell underfoot, bound the strong one, and snatched human beings up to the heights of heaven: I am the Christ. Come, then, people of every nation, receive forgiveness for the sins that defile you. I am your forgiveness. I am the Passover that brings salvation. I am the lamb who was immolated for you. I am your ransom, your life, your resurrection, your light, I am your salvation and your king. I will lead you to the heights of heaven. I will show you the eternal Father. With my right hand I will raise you up.
(Easter Homily 2-7, 100-103: SC 123, 60-64.121-122.)

HIPPOLYTUS OF ROME* (170–236): Death became its own death

To show that he had power over death Christ had exercised his royal authority to loose death's bonds even during his lifetime, as for example when he gave the commands, Lazarus, come out and arise, my child. For the same reason he surrendered himself completely to death, so that in him that gluttonous beast with his insatiable appetite would die completely. Since death's power comes from sin, it searched everywhere in his sinless body for its accustomed food, for sensuality, pride, disobedience, or, in a word, for that ancient sin which was its original sustenance. In him, however, it found nothing to feed on and so, being entirely closed in upon itself and destroyed for lack of nourishment, death became its own death.

O heavenly bounty, spiritual feast, divine Passover, coming down from heaven to earth and ascending again into heaven. You are the light of the new candles, the brightness of the virgins' lamps. Thanks to you the lamps of souls filled with the oil of Christ are no longer extinguished, for the spiritual and divine fire of love burns in all, in both soul and body.
(Paschal Homily: SC 27, 116-118.184-190.)

Hippolytus was the first anti-pope, was reconciled with the pope and later both died as martyrs for the faith.


God First Loved Us

Fulfill the commandments out of love. Could anyone refuse to love our God, so abounding in mercy, so just in all his ways? Could anyone deny love to him who first loved us despite all our injustice and all our pride? Could anyone refuse to love the God who so loved us as to send his only Son not only to live among human beings but also to be put to death for their sake and at their own hands?
-- Catechetical Instructions 39

Prayer. You, the Omnipotent and Good, care for each of us as if each was your sole care, and for all as for one alone!
-- Confession 3, 11

Without Christ We Can Do Nothing

Our Lord had the power to lay down his life and to take it up again. But we cannot choose how long we shall live, and death comes to us even against our will. Christ, by dying, has already overcome death. Our freedom from death comes only through his death. To save us Christ had no need of us. Yet without him we can do nothing. He gave himself to us as the vine to the branches; apart from him we cannot live.
-- Sermons on John 84, 2

Prayer. Lord, you have saved my soul from the constraint of fear, so that it may serve you in the freedom of love.
-- Commentary on Psalm 30 (1), 8


THE truly patient person, the true servant of God, bears up equally under ignominious tribulations and those that are honorable. To be despised, criticized or accused by evil men is something that a courageous man does not mind. But it takes a lot of virtue to accept being criticized, denounced and badly treated by good people––by our relatives and friends.
(INT. Part III, Ch. 3; O. III, p. 137)

LET us not forget the maxims of the saints, who teach us to advance a little further each day on the road to perfection. This thought should encourage us not to be surprised or to feel miserable whenever we have something to correct. Each day we must begin again with renewed courage.
(Letters 1049; O. XVI, p. 312)


LAUGHTER and love are everywhere. The cathedrals, built in the ages that loved God, are full of blasphemous grotesques. The mother laughs continually at the child, the lover laughs continually at the lover, the wife at the husband, the friend at the friend.
('The Napoleon of Notting Hill.')

FAIRY-TALES do not give a child his first idea of bogy. What fairy-tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogy. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy-tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.

Exactly what the fairy-tale does is this: it accustoms him by a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors have a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies, that these infinite enemies of man have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear. When I was a child I have stared at the darkness until the whole black bulk of it turned into one negro giant taller than heaven. If there was one star in the sky it only made him a Cyclops. But fairy-tales restored my mental health. For next day I read an authentic account of how a negro giant with one eye, of quite equal dimensions, had been baffled by a little boy like myself (of similar inexperience and even lower social status) by means of a sword, some bad riddles, and a brave heart.
('Tremendous Trifles.')

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