Patristic Lectionary – 13 November – St. Frances Xavier Cabrini; Saturday, Twenty-Third Week in Trinitytide

Patristic Lectionary – 13 November – St. Frances Xavier Cabrini; Saturday, Twenty-Third Week in Trinitytide

[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.]

[Image: “Daniel, Job, & Noah” – Canterbury Cathedral, Panel 9 of the Window (1178-1180) in the North Choir Aisle (1178-1180; severely damaged “by the Parliamentarians in 1642.” – “The inscription originally read: ‘God sowed the words of the father: from these his fruit increased on the good ground threefold; his own crown was given to each.’ This explains the angels crowning the Old Testament heroes Daniel, Job and Noah, and connects the scene with the Sower on Thorny Ground and Good Ground in [Panel 8].”  Panel 9 is also meant to be contrasted with Panel 7, “The Deceitfulness of Riches,” which depicts the pagan Roman emperors Julian and Maurice.]

Ezekiel 14:12-23

The Salvation of the Righteous and the Downfall of Sinners

And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it, and break its staff of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, says the Lord GOD. If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they ravage it, and it be made desolate, so that no man may pass through because of the beasts; even if these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters; they alone would be delivered, but the land would be desolate. Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Let a sword go through the land; and I cut off from it man and beast; though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they alone would be delivered. Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my wrath upon it with blood, to cut off from it man and beast; even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness.

“For thus says the Lord GOD: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four sore acts of judgment, sword, famine, evil beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast! Yet, if there should be left in it any survivors to lead out sons and daughters, when they come forth to you, and you see their ways and their doings, you will be consoled for the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, for all that I have brought upon it. They will console you, when you see their ways and their doings; and you shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, says the Lord GOD.”

St. Augustine of Hippo

Enarrationes in Psalmos 132, 1-5(Works of Saint Augustine [2004], tr. Maria Boulding, O.S.B.)

This is a short psalm, very well known and frequently quoted. See how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! These words of the psalm have given birth to monasteries. Brothers longed to live as one when awakened by this song; this verse roused them like a trumpet. It rang all around the world, and those who were dispersed came together into one sheepfold. What does the psalm imply by the words, in unity? Scripture tells us: They had but one mind and one heart. These, then, were the first to hear effectively the psalm’s words, See how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! They were the first but not the only ones, for this love and fraternal unity did not reach them only to end there.

In case you hear anyone insulting you, Catholics, about our monks, we should point out that it is from the words of this psalm that their name is derived. Nonetheless, dearest friends there are spurious monks too. Just as there are spurious clerics, and some among believers who do not deserve the name, so too there are bogus monks. All these three classes of people have good and bad among them. These three are mentioned in the Gospel: Two men will be in the field: one will be taken, the other left. Two men will be in bed: one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be at the mill: one will be taken, the other left. The ones in the field represent those who rule the Church; this is why the Apostle says, I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. By the people in bed the Lord meant us to understand those who love a quiet life – for a bed symbolises restful quiet – those who do not mingle with the crowds but serve God in leisure. Then again, we are told that there will be two women at the mill. This is put into the feminine because the Lord meant ordinary laity. But why are they said to be at the mill? Because their business is in the world, a world continually revolving like a millstone – and woe betide anyone crushed by it!

Ezekiel speaks in a similar way about three typical persons who represent the same three groups. When the Lord unleashes a sword over the land, he says, even if Noah, Daniel and Job are among the people, they will not save their sons or daughters. Only they themselves will be saved. Those three individuals were indeed saved long ago, but under their three names three classes of people are typified. Noah stands for the rulers of the Church, because he steered the ark through the flood. But Daniel chose a quiet life, in which he might serve God in celibacy; he did not seek a wife. Daniel is called a man of desires—chaste and holy desires, of course—and he stands for those servants of God of whom the psalm speaks: See how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! Job corresponds to the one woman who is taken and freed from toiling at the mill. He had a wife, he had children, he had a vast fortune; in fact he had so plentiful supply of worldly goods that the devil was able to accuse him of worshipping God not disinterestedly but because of all he had been given. Under these three names, then, three types of people are represented, just as they are by the three groups in the Gospel, as I have explained.

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