Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, I occasionally post selections from Durham University’s two-year lectionary for the Divine Office that draws mostly from patristic writings. The lectionary was initially edited by Stephen Mark Holmes (University of Edinburgh School of Divinity) and subsequently re-edited and formatted by Michele Freyhauf (Durham University). Click here for the link to the lectionary.]
Patristic Lectionary—31 August 2020, Feria after the Eleventh Sunday of Trinitytide (Monday ~ 22nd Week in Ordinary Time)
The First Letter of St. Paul to Timothy 6:1-10
On Slaves and On False Teachers
Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honour, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brethren; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved.
Teach and urge these duties. If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.
St. Vincent of Lérins
Commonitorium 1, 23
Is there to be no development of doctrine in Christ’s Church? Certainly there should be great development. Who could be so grudging towards his fellow men and so hostile to God as to try to prevent it? But care should be taken to ensure that it really is development of the faith and not alteration. Development implies that each point of doctrine is expanded within itself, while alteration suggests that a thing has been changed from what it was into something different.
It is desirable then that development should take place, and that there should be a great and vigorous growth in the understanding, knowledge and wisdom of every individual as well as of all the people, on the part of each member as well as of the whole Church, gradually over the generations and ages. But it must be growth within the limits of its own nature, that is to say within the framework of the same dogma and of the same meaning.
Let religion, which is of the spirit, imitate the processes of the body. For, although bodies develop over the years and their individual parts evolve, they do not change into something different. It is true that there is a great gap between the prime of youth and the maturity of later years, but the people who reach these later years are the same people who once were adolescents. So, although the size and outward appearance of any individual may change, it is still the same person, and the nature remains the same.
The limbs of infants are tiny, while those of young men are large, but they are the same limbs. The man has no more parts to his body than the little child; and if there are parts that appear with age and greater maturity, they are already present earlier in embryo. As a result, it can be said that nothing new is produced in old men that was not already present in an undeveloped form when they were boys.
There is no doubt, then, that this is the correct and legitimate rule for development and the best and most striking order of growth, if the passage of years sees those parts evolve in the adult, which the Creator in his wisdom had prepared in him beforehand when he was a child.
But if the human form is changed into some shape that is not of its own kind, or at least if something is added or taken away from the full complement of its members, then the whole body must perish or become a monster or at least be weakened in some way. It is fitting, then, that Christian doctrine too should follow these laws of development, so that with the passage of years it may be strengthened, with time it may make progress, and with age it may achieve greater profundity.
Long ago our ancestors sowed the seeds of the faith in the field of the Church. It would be quite incongruous and wrong if their descendants were to reap the weeds of error in place of the harvest of truth.