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—5 October 2020, Feria after the Seventeenth Sunday of Trinitytide (Monday ~ 27th Week in Ordinary Time)
[The image is of the beginning text of the Book of Sirach (1654) – “Alle Weissheit ist bey Gott dem Herrn” (“All wisdom is from the Lord”)]
Patience in Temptation
My son, if you come forward to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation. Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be hasty in time of calamity. Cleave to him and do not depart, that you may be honoured at the end of your life. Accept whatever is brought upon you, and in changes that humble you be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation. Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him.
You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; and turn not aside, lest you fall. You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not fail; you who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for everlasting joy and mercy. Consider the ancient generations and see: who ever trusted in the Lord and was put to shame? Or who ever persevered in the fear of the Lord and was forsaken? Or who ever called upon him and was overlooked? For the Lord is compassionate and merciful; he forgives sins and saves in time of affliction.
Woe to timid hearts and to slack hands, and to the sinner who walks along two ways! Woe to the faint heart, for it has no trust! Therefore it will not be sheltered. Woe to you who have lost your endurance! What will you do when the Lord punishes you? Those who fear the Lord will not disobey his words, and those who love him will keep his ways. Those who fear the Lord will seek his approval, and those who love him will be filled with the law. Those who fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and will humble themselves before him. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, but not into the hands of men; for as his majesty is, so also is his mercy.
Sermon 38, 5.11 (Corpus Christianorum Latina 41:5-6.11)
Let us put our trust in God, my brethren. This is the first commandment, the first principle of religion and of our life: to have our heart anchored in faith and thus to live uprightly, to hold ourselves aloof from mere pleasure, to endure temporal misfortune. What is it that we hear in the canticle? My son, if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal. Be sincere of heart, be steadfast. Cling to him and do not leave him, so that your life may abound at the latter day. How ‘abound’? That you may abound eternally, I think. Certainly not now! Our human life is on the wane now, rather than otherwise. A man is born into the world. God allots him seventy years, say. As he grows up, we say that life is before him. But is it? Is his life increasing or decreasing? When he has lived sixty of his seventy years, ten years only remain. His span is diminished, and the longer he lives the less remains to him. While we live, then, life is not increasing but rather ebbing away. So hold fast to what God has promised you, that you may abound at the latter day.
Whatever happens to you, accept it, and in changes that humble you be patient, for gold is tested in the fire, and chosen men in the furnace of humiliation. The way may seem hard, but would you not lose an indefectible good by defecting from it? There are many who endure great hardship in order to acquire perishable wealth, and would you not suffer for the sake of an imperishable life? You have taken on the yoke of wisdom. Is it going to be difficult? Yes, surely, but look up towards your goal, towards your reward. He who has promised is faithful. He has not shown it to you, because it is not yet time. Nevertheless, he has already shown you a great deal. He promised the Messiah, and he sent him; he promised he would rise again, and he did; he promised the gospel, and he gave it; he promised that the Church would spread throughout the world, and it has. Why do you not believe that he will keep his other promises?
Beloved brethren, let us cleanse our hearts and not lose the will to endure. Let us keep wisdom before us and hold fast to self-discipline. Our striving lasts for but an instant, rest awaits us. Empty enjoyments pass away, but the good, longed for by the man of faith, the good to which every pilgrim in the world aspires, is at hand: the good country, the heavenly country, the country where we shall see the angels, where no citizen dies, no enemy finds admittance, where you shall fear no foe but have God forever as your friend.