[Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, this is a series of occasional 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. R. M. Healey’s edition is also used if there are lacunae in the Durham edition. Click here for the link to Healey’s formatting of the lectionary.]
Patristic Lectionary – 9 October 2021 – St. John Henry Newman; Saturday, Eighteenth Week in Trinitytide
Zephaniah 1:1-7, 14 – 2:3
The Judgement of the Lord
The word of the LORD which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.
“I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” says the LORD. “I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. I will overthrow the wicked; I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth,” says the LORD. “I will stretch out my hand against Judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal and the name of the idolatrous priests; those who bow down on the roofs to the host of the heavens; those who bow down and swear to the LORD and yet swear by Milcom; those who have turned back from following the LORD, who do not seek the LORD or inquire of him.”
Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is at hand; the LORD has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests. For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves, “Short and sorrowful is our life, and there is no remedy when a man comes to his end, and no one has been known to return from Hades. Because we were born by mere chance, and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been; because the breath in our nostrils is smoke, and reason is a spark kindled by the beating of our hearts. When it is extinguished, the body will turn to ashes, and the spirit will dissolve like empty air.
The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter, the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements.
I will bring distress on men, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealous wrath, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full, yea, sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
Come together and hold assembly, O shameless nation, before you are driven away like the drifting chaff, before there comes upon you the fierce anger of the LORD, before there comes upon you the day of the wrath of the LORD. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the wrath of the LORD.
Sermon 38:10-11 (Works of St. Augustine, tr. Edmund Hill, O.P.)
Realise that the one who made you the promises is truthful and trustworthy. He hasn’t yet shown you everything, because it isn’t yet time for him to do so. He has already shown you a great many things, though. He promised you his Christ, and he gave him; he promised his resurrection, and he gave it; the very afflictions and disasters piled one on top of the other in human affairs, he foretold and has shown. How much is left? What was promised has been fulfilled, what was foretold has been fulfilled. And are you on tenterhooks that perhaps what’s left may not happen?
What should really frighten you would be not seeing fulfilled what has been foretold. There are wars, there are famines, there are tribulations, there’s kingdom against kingdom, there are earthquakes, there’s calamity piled on calamity, there’s no lack of scandals, charity is cold, there’s plenty of wickedness. Read all this up, it’s been foretold. Read, observe that everything you see happening has been foretold, and believe that you are eventually going to see what hasn’t yet come about, counting up all the things that have. And do you, when you see God presenting you with what he has foretold, refuse to believe that he is going to give you what he has promised? It’s precisely what has got you upset that ought to give you grounds for trusting him.
If it’s the end of the world, then it’s time to quit the world, not to love the world. Look, the world is in a state of turmoil, and everyone loves the world! Suppose the world were at peace? How you would cling to a beautiful world, seeing how fervently you embrace a world in a mess! How eagerly you would gather its flowers, seeing that you don’t pull your hand back from its thorns! You don’t want to leave the world, the world leaves you, and you follow the world. So let us purify our hearts, dearly beloved, and not give up the virtue of endurance, but rather gain wisdom and hold on to the virtue of restraint. Toil passes away, rest is coming; deceptive delights pass away, and the good is coming which the faithful soul has been longing for, and for which every pilgrim exiled in the world is fervently sighing: the good home country, our heavenly home, our home with the angelic peoples, our home country where no citizen ever dies, where no hostile alien gains admittance, our home where you will have God as your everlasting friend, and where you need