Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wisdom from...

ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407): Never Consider Hurting Your Enemy

When your enemy falls into your hands, do not consider how you can pay him back and let him feel the sharp edge of your tongue before sending him packing; consider rather how you can heal him and restore him to a better frame of mind. Continue to make every effort both by word and deed until your gentleness has overcome his aggressiveness. Nothing has more power than gentleness. As someone has said: A soft word will break bones. And what is harder than bone? Well then, even if someone is as hard and inflexible as that, he will be conquered if you treat him gently. There is another saying: A soft answer turns away wrath. It is obvious, therefore, that whether your enemy continues to rage or whether he is reconciled depends much more on you than on him. For it rests with us, not with those who are angry, either to destroy their anger or enflame it.
(De David et Saule, Hom. III, 6-7.)

John was the patriarch of Constantinople, spent a life of preaching and earned the title of "the golden-mouthed."

ST. AUGUSTINE: Every Moment You Are Passing On

From the time that I started speaking until this moment, do you realize you have grown older? You cannot see your hair growing. Yet while you stand around, while you are here, while you do something, while you talk, your hair keeps growing -- but never so suddenly that you need a barber straightaway. In this way, your existence fades away. You are passing on.
-- Commentary on Psalm 38, 12

Prayer. My God, let me be thankful as I remember and acknowledge all your mercies.
-- Confessions 8, 1


[1] ... Sensible things, from which the human reason takes the origin of its knowledge, retain within themselves some sort of trace of a likeness to God. This is so imperfect, however, that it is absolutely inadequate to manifest the substance of God. For effects bear within themselves, in their own way, the likeness of their causes, since an agent produces its like [Habent enim effectus suarum causarum suo modo similitudinem, cum agens agat sibi simile]; yet an effect does not always reach to the full likeness of its cause [non tamen effectus ad perfectam agentis similitudinem semper pertingit.]. Now, the human reason is related to the knowledge of the truth of faith ... in such a way that it can gather certain likenesses of it, which are yet not sufficient so that the truth of faith may be comprehended as being understood demonstratively or through itself. Yet it is useful for the human reason to exercise itself in such arguments, however weak they may be, provided only that there be present no presumption to comprehend or to demonstrate. For to be able to see something of the loftiest realities, however thin and weak the sight may be, is ... a cause of the greatest joy.

[2] The testimony of Hilary agrees with this. Speaking of this same truth, he writes as follows in his De Trinitate [II, 10, ii]: “Enter these truths by believing, press forward, persevere. And though I may know that you will not arrive at an end, yet I will congratulate you in your progress. For, though he who pursues the infinite with reverence will never finally reach the end, yet he will always progress by pressing onward. But do not intrude yourself into the divine secret, do not, presuming to comprehend the sum total of intelligence, plunge yourself into the mystery of the unending nativity; rather, understand that these things are incomprehensible.
(SCG I, 8)


We must consider our neighbor in relationship to God, Who wants us to love him ... and we are to be interested in him even when this is distasteful for us. The resistance of the inferior part of our soul will be overcome by the frequent performance of good acts. To this end, however, we must center our prayers and meditations of the love of our neighbor, having first implored the love of God. We must ask for the grace to love especially those we do not like very much.
(Letters 217; O. XIII, pp. 268-270)


WAR is a dreadful thing; but it does prove two points sharply and unanswerably -- numbers and an unnatural valour. One does discover the two urgent matters; how many rebels there are alive, and how many are ready to be dead.
('What's Wrong with the World.')


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