Patristic Lectionary – Friday, Seventh Week of Easter – 3 June 2022 – Charles Lwanga, Catechist, Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs
[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: Joseph Galea, _ Church of St. Paul, Mtahleb, Rabat, Malta_ (1977) ]
Acts 28: 1-14
Paul on the Isle of Malta, Journey to Rome
After we had escaped, we then learned that the island was called Malta. And the natives showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, when a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They waited, expecting him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead; but when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.
Now in the neighbourhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery; and Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They presented many gifts to us; and when we sailed, they put on board whatever we needed.
After three months we set sail in a ship which had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the Twin Brothers as figurehead. Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium; and after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. There we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome.
William of Saint-Thierry
Speculum Fidei (Mirror of Faith) (Patrologia Latina 180:384)
If you feel a natural hesitation when confronted with the more profound mysteries of faith, take courage, Christian soul, and say not contentiously but with loving submission: ‘How can these things be?’ Let your question be a prayer, let it be an expression of love, piety, and humble longing. Seek not to explore the heights of the divine majesty, but to find salvation in the saving deeds of God our Saviour.
Then the Messenger of God’s great design will reply: When the Paraclete comes, whom I shall send you from the Father, he will remind you of everything and teach you all truth. Even as no one knows the thoughts of man except the spirit of the man that is within him, so no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
Hasten therefore to share in the Holy Spirit. He is with you when you call upon him; you can call upon him only because he is already present. When he comes in answer to your prayer, he comes with an abundance of divine blessings. He is the river whose streams give joy to the city of God.
If when he comes he finds you humble, silent, and trembling at the words of God, he will rest upon you and reveal what God the Father has hidden from the wise and the prudent of this world. You will then begin to understand the things holy Wisdom could have told his disciples on earth, but which they were unable to bear until the Spirit of truth came who was to teach them all truth. We cannot hope to learn from the lips of any man truths that Truth himself could not convey. For he himself has told us: God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth, so those who wish to know him must seek understanding of their faith and perception of its pure and simple truth only through the Holy Spirit.
In the darkness and ignorance of this life the Holy Spirit is the light that enlightens the poor in spirit, the love that draws them on, the sweetness that attracts them, their access to God, the love of the loving. The Spirit is devotion and piety. From one degree of faith to the next the Spirit reveals to believers the justice of God, so that grace follows grace, and the faith that comes from hearing gives place to a faith enlightened by understanding.