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 October 2020, Feria after the Seventeenth Sunday of Trinitytide (Saturday ~ 27th Week in Ordinary Time)
[The image is of St. Gregory Nazianzen by Julia Bridget Hayes]
Duties Towards Children, Parents, Priests, the Poor
Do not exchange a friend for money, or a real brother for the gold of Ophir. Do not deprive yourself of a wise and good wife, for her charm is worth more than gold. Do not abuse a servant who performs his work faithfully, or a hired labourer who devotes himself to you. Let your soul love an intelligent servant; do not withhold from him his freedom.
Do you have cattle? Look after them; if they are profitable to you, keep them. Do you have children? Discipline them, and make them obedient from their youth. Do you have daughters? Be concerned for their chastity, and do not show yourself too indulgent with them. Give a daughter in marriage; you will have finished a great task. But give her to a man of understanding.
If you have a wife who pleases you, do not cast her out; but do not trust yourself to one whom you detest. With all your heart honour your father, and do not forget the birth pangs of your mother. Remember that through your parents you were born; and what can you give back to them that equals their gift to you?
With all your soul fear the Lord, and honour his priests. With all your might love your Maker, and do not forsake his ministers. Fear the Lord and honour the priest, and give him his portion, as is commanded you: the first fruits, the guilt offering, the gift of the shoulders, the sacrifice of sanctification, and the first fruits of the holy things. Stretch forth your hand to the poor, so that your blessing may be complete. Give graciously to all the living, and withhold not kindness from the dead. Do not fail those who weep, but mourn with those who mourn. Do not shrink from visiting a sick man, because for such deeds you will be loved. In all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin.
St. Gregory Nazianzen
Oratio 14, 20-22 De Pauperum Amore (Sermon on Love of the Poor) (Patrologia Graeca 35: 882-886
The fortunes of this world are uncertain and transient; they are tossed from hand to hand, as in a game with pebbles, and are always changing. Not one of this world’s blessings belongs to its owner securely enough to prevent time destroying it, or envy transferring it elsewhere. But the rewards of heaven are fixed and abiding; they neither disappear nor change, and can never deceive the hopes of those who trust in them.
Now in my opinion there is a very good reason why people can find nothing reliable or lasting in the good things of this world. The Word, who is the architect of our destiny in this as in all things, and the Wisdom that transcends all mortal thought, have together well contrived it that we should be misled by everything we see in the constantly shifting world around us, where in the midst of this whirling to and fro we are always in pursuit of something that is forever flying from our grasp. Once we have observed the restlessness and disorder of this mortal life, we shall hasten to change our course toward the life to come. Indeed what should we have done if our prosperity here had been secure, when even in all its uncertainty we are so bound to this world, and its pleasures and allurements have so enslaved us, that we cannot imagine anything better or higher that our present life? And this, despite the fact that we are told and believe that we are created in the image of God, that image which is above and draws us to itself.
Who is wise enough to understand these things? Who will abandon the things that pass away, and devote himself to those that last? Who will think of the present as something that is always moving away? Happy indeed is he who has such powers of discernment, and who uses the keen edge of the Word to separate the better from the worse. His heart is set on the journey upward, as holy David was inspired to say in one of the psalms; and so he flies with all speed from this valley of weeping, and seeks the realms above. Crucified to the world with Christ, he takes his stand beside Christ and ascends in the company of Christ, an heir to a life that henceforth is neither changing nor deceptive, and where he will no longer find a serpent waiting on the road to bite his heel, while he watches out for its head.
Therefore without delay let us follow the Word, seek our rest in the world beyond, and throw away the riches of this world. Let us profit by them in the only good way we can, that is, let us gain possession of our souls by giving alms, and share our earthly goods with the poor so as to enrich ourselves with the wealth of heaven.