Monday, August 11, 2008

Wisdom from…

ORIGEN OF ALEXANDRIA (185–253): Victory is sought by the darts of prayer

Shall I remind you of Judith, that high-minded lady, that noblest of women? When the cause was almost lost she did not hesitate to go alone to its defense and alone to risk herself and her life in order to slay cruel Holofernes; she went to war not in armor or on steeds of battle or weighed down with the weapons on which soldiers rely, but with strength of soul and the confidence of faith, and she destroyed the enemy by resolution and courage. A woman restored the freedom of her country, which men had lost.

But I need not invoke the example of those far distant from us in the past. With our own eyes we have often seen women and still youthful maidens endure the torments of tyrants in witness to their faith. What is needed in those who do battle for the truth and for God is courage not of body but of spirit. For victory is to be sought by the darts of prayer not by iron javelins, and it is faith that enables one to endure the combat. Thus armed, take up the standard of Christ's cross and follow him.
(In lib. Judicum, hom. VII: PG 12, 986-988.)

Origen became head of the catechetical school of Alexandria and devoted his life to the study of scripture.

ST AUGUSTINE: Rich and Poor--Equal Births

Carefully examine yourself and see how you stand in relation to the poor. Look at yourself, not at what you possess. Why do you scorn your brother or sister? In your mother's wombs both of you were naked. In truth, even when you have departed this life, and your bodies have rotted, when your souls have been sent forth, can the bones of the rich and poor people be told apart? I am speaking of the condition of humankind in which all are born. For both things are true: a person becomes rich here and a poor person will not be here forever.
-- Commentary on Psalm 103, 7

Prayer. God examines rich and poor, not according to their lands and houses, but according to the riches of their hearts.
-- Commentary on Psalm 48, 3


It is a common saying that as one lives, so shall he die. What kind of death do you think the blessed virgin had, if not a death filled with love? In her life we do not read of raptures or ecstasies, because her whole life was a continual rapture of burning love. Now, when the moment comes to leave this miserable earth, love separates the soul from the body. As nothing was found in her that prevented her from the possession of glory, since her whole being was pervaded by purity and beauty, she immediately flew to Heaven after her death.
(Sermons 21; O. IX. pp. 182-183)


YOU complain of Catholicism for setting up an ideal of virginity; it did nothing of the kind. The whole human race set up an ideal of virginity; the Greeks in Athene, the Romans in the Vestal fire, set up an ideal of virginity. What then is your real quarrel with Catholicism? Your quarrel can only be, your quarrel really only is, that Catholicism has achieved an ideal of virginity; that it is no longer a mere piece of floating poetry. But if you, and a few feverish men, in top hats, running about in a street in London, choose to differ as to the ideal itself, not only from the Church, but from the Parthenon whose name means virginity, from the Roman Empire which went outwards from the virgin flame, from the whole legend and tradition of Europe, from the lion who will not touch virgins, from the unicorn who respects them, and who make up together the bearers of your own national shield, from the most living and lawless of your own poets, from Massinger, who wrote the 'Virgin Martyr,' from Shakespeare, who wrote 'Measure for Measure ' -- if you in Fleet Street differ from all this human experience, does it never strike you that it may be Fleet Street that is wrong?
('The Ball and the Cross.')

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