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—3 December 2020, St. Francis Xavier
The Day of the Lord
Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger, the staff of my fury! Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. But he does not so intend, and his mind does not so think; but it is in his mind to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few; for he says: “Are not my commanders all kings? Is not Calno like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad? Is not Samaria like Damascus? As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols whose graven images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as I have done to Samaria and her images?”
When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem he will punish the arrogant boasting of the king of Assyria and his haughty pride. For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I have removed the boundaries of peoples, and have plundered their treasures; like a bull I have brought down those who sat on thrones. My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as men gather eggs that have been forsaken so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing, or opened the mouth, or chirped.”
Shall the axe vaunt itself over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood! Therefore the Lord, the LORD of hosts, will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire. The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame; and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day. The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the LORD will destroy, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away. The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down.
In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean upon him that smote them, but will lean upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.
Peter of Blois
Sermo 3 de Adventu Domini (Patrologia Latina 207, 569-572)
Our task in this world, according to Saint Paul, is to live sober, upright, and godly lives as we look forward to the coming of our blessed hope, the appearing in glory of almighty God.
The Lord’s coming is threefold. He came the first time in the flesh, the second time he comes to the individual soul, a third coming will be at the Last Judgment. The first took place at midnight, the second occurs in the early morning, the third will be at noon. With reference to the first we have the infallible words of the Gospel: A cry went up at midnight, ‘the Bridegroom is coming!’ From this I note that the first coming was at midnight, the time when, in deep silence, night was pursuing its course. Jew and Greek alike walked in darkness. Then came the bridegroom. A cry went up, shattering the silence of the night. He who lights up the things that are hidden in the dark had come to dispel the night and create the day. The prophets foresaw that the almighty Word was resolved to descend from his royal throne. Realizing that Christ was to come, they broke that profound silence by bursting into shouts of joy. Individually and in chorus the prophets raised their voices, and what a cry that was!
Our experience of the Lord’s second coming depends on whether we live in such a way as to make him willing to come to us. If we love him we need have no fear; he will surely come and make his home with us. However, there is always an element of uncertainty about this coming, whereas of the third coming there is no doubt whatever. The only thing we do not know is when it will be. There is nothing more certain than that we shall die, yet the hour of our death is unknown to us. Our only security in this life comes from knowing that we are never safe. We vacillate between health and sickness, good fortune and adversity. One minute we are alive, the next we are not. Death spares neither age nor sex.
How blessed is he who can confidently say: My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready! Having gathered the fruit of grace from the Lord’s first coming, they will reap a harvest of salvation and glory from the second; for the first opens up the way for the second, and the second prepares us for the third. Lowly and unspectacular in his first coming, secret and gentle in his second, Christ will come openly the third time, and his final coming will fill the world with dread. He came to us at his first coming in order to come into us at the second, and he comes into us at his second coming in order not to have to come against us at the third. At his first coming he showed mercy, in the second he brings grace, at the third he will give glory, for Scripture says: The Lord will confer grace and glory.