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—10 September 2020, Feria after the Thirteenth Sunday of Trinitytide (Thursday ~ 23rd Week in Ordinary Time)
[The image is a 6th-century mosaic of St. Cyprian of Carthage, Church of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy]
The Second Letter of St. Peter 3:1-10
God is Faithful to His Promises
This is now the second letter that I have written to you, beloved, and in both of them I have aroused your sincere mind by way of reminder; that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles. First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.” They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly men.
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.
St. Cyprian of Carthage
On Mortality 18.24.26
We must remember that we ought to do what God wills, not what we will, in accordance with the prayer that the Lord ordered us to use daily. Since we pray that God’s will be done, how foolish and how perverse it is not to obey immediately the command of his will when he calls us and summons us from this world. We struggle and fight, and, like obstinate slaves, we are brought before the Lord grieving and sad, and we leave this world in the chains of necessity, rather than in willing obedience. We want to be honoured with the rewards of heaven by the God to whom we come against our will. Why then do we pray and ask that the kingdom of heaven should come, if captivity on earth delights us? Why do we pray, and pray continually, that the day of that kingdom should come quickly, if our longings and desires are stronger and greater for bondage to the devil here than for reigning with Christ?
Since the world hates the Christian, why do you love that which hates you, and why do you not rather follow Christ who redeemed you and loved you? In his Epistle John cries out and exhorts us not to pursue the lusts of the flesh and love the world. Do not love the world, he says, or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. And the world will pass away and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides for ever. Rather, my dear brothers, let us be ready for all that God’s will may bring, with an undivided heart, firm faith and rugged strength. Let us shut out any fear of death, and keep our mind on the immortality that follows death. Let us show that this is what we believe.
My dear brothers, we must consider and ponder again and again how we have renounced the world and now live here in the meantime as strangers and aliens. Let us welcome that day which allots to each man his final home, which snatches us from the world, frees us from the bonds which bind us to this age, and restores us to paradise and to God’s kingdom. What man who lives in a foreign country would not hurry to return home? We reckon paradise to be our home. A great throng awaits us there of those dear to us; parents, brothers, sons. A packed and numerous throng longs for us, of those already free from anxiety for their own salvation, who are still concerned for our salvation. There is the glorious company of the Apostles, there the fellowship of the prophets rejoicing. There is the innumerable army of martyrs, crowned for their glorious victory in their suffering and strife. There in triumphant procession are the virgins who have subdued the lusts of the flesh with the strength of chastity. My dear brothers, let us hurry forward to meet these with eager longing. Let God see these thoughts in us, that Christ may discern in us this intention of our mind and faith, Christ who will give greater rewards to those whose longing for him has been greater.