[Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, I occasionally post selections from a 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. When there are lacunae in the Durham edition, I draw from R. M. Healey’s edition. Click here for the link to his formatting of the lectionary.]
Patristic Lectionary—11 January 2021, Ferial Day Following the First Sunday After Epiphany; Monday, First Week of Ordinary Time
[The image is of Friedrich Stummel’s and Karl Wenzel’s fresco of St. Paul the Apostle in Herz Jesus Church, late 19th-to-early-20th centuries.]
Greeting and Thanksgiving
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God. which he promised beforehand through his Prophets in the Holy Scriptures, the Gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know, brethren, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish: so I am eager to preach the Gospel to you also who are in Rome.
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”
St. John Chrysostom
Commenatrius in Epistolam ad Romanos, Argumentum Epistolae (Joannis Chrysostomi Opera Omnia 9:461-5 [Paris, 1837])
As I keep hearing the Letters of the Blessed Paul read, sometimes twice a week and often three or four times when we are celebrating the memory of the Holy Martyrs, I rejoice and enjoy hearing this spiritual trumpet, and my desire is inflamed. I recognise this voice which is so dear to me and imagine him all but present to my sight and I see him conversing with me. But I am sad that all people do not know this man as well as they ought. Some are so ignorant of him that they do not even know for certain how many letters he wrote! And this comes not from inability, but from their not having the will to be continually conversing with this holy man.
It is not through any natural ability or sharpness of wit that even I am acquainted with as much as I do know, if I do know anything, but my knowledge comes from a constant use of his writings and a great love for the man. For those who love know best what belongs to their beloved, as they have them constantly in their thoughts. This is shown by the holy man himself to the Philippians, when he says: It is right for me to feel thus about you, because I hold you in my heart, in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel.
And so you too, if you are willing to apply yourselves to reading him with a ready mind, will need no other help. For the word of Christ is true: Seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened to you. For from ignorance of the Scriptures have the countless evils of our time arisen; from this ignorance the plague of heresies has broken out among us so violently; from this ignorance so many live negligent lives. Just as men deprived of daylight would not walk straight, so those who do not look to the shining of the Holy Scriptures must needs be frequently sinning as they are walking in the worst of darkness.
So that this may not be the case with us, let us open our eyes to the bright shining of the Apostle’s words; for this man’s tongue shone forth above the sun, and he abounded more than all the rest in the word of doctrine. For such was this holy soul that he embraced the whole world and carried about all men within himself. And he loved them more than any father loves his children, it was as if he had begotten them all himself; for such is the grace of the Spirit that it exceeds the bonds of the flesh.