Patristic Lectionary – Friday, 10th Week in Ordinary Time (Feria, Whitsun Week) – 10 June 2022
[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: West Cloister Walk, Hauterive Abbey, Switzerland ]
Philippians 3:17 – 4:9
“Stand Firm in the Lord”
Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Therefore, my brethren, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. And I ask you also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they have laboured side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.
St. John Cassian
Conferences 3.6.1-7.2 (Ancient Christian Writers 57, trans. Boniface Ramsey, O.P.)
Something must be said about the renunciations which the tradition of the fathers and the authority of Holy Scripture show to be three and which each one of us ought to pursue with all our zeal. The first is that by which in bodily fashion we despise all the wealth and resources of the world. The second is that by which we reject our former behaviour, vices, and affections of soul and body. The third is that by which we call our mind away from everything that is present and visible and contemplate only what is to come and desire those things that are invisible.
This third renunciation is the case when we have died with Christ to the elements of this world and, in the words of the Apostle, we contemplate not those things that are seen but those that are unseen, for the things that are seen are temporal, but those that are unseen are eternal, and, departing in heart from this temporal and visible house, we direct our eyes and our mind to the one in which we shall abide forever. We shall accomplish this when, walking in the flesh but not according to the flesh, we have begun to soldier for the Lord and are crying out in deed and virtue that phrase of the blessed Apostle: Our citizenship is in the heavens.
The three books of Solomon refer to these three renunciations. For Proverbs is related to the first renunciation; by it the desire for fleshly things and the earthly vices are cut off. Ecclesiastes, wherein all that is accomplished under the sun is declared vain, is related to the second renunciation. The Canticle of Canticles, in which the mind transcends everything that is visible and is already joined to the Word of God by the contemplation of heavenly things, is related to the third.
Therefore it will not be of much value for us to have embraced the first renunciation with a very devout faith if we do not seize upon the second with the same zeal and the same fervour. When we have attained this, we shall also be able to reach the third. Here, having left the house of our former parent, who we remember has been our father from the time of our birth according to the old man, when we were by nature children of wrath like the rest, we shall turn our mind’s gaze completely to heavenly things. Of this father it is said to Jerusalem, who had disdained God her true father: Your father was an Amorite, and your mother a Hittite. And in the Gospel: You are of your father the devil, and you wish to fulfil your father’s desires.
When you have left him and have gone from visible to invisible realities you will be able to say with the Apostle: We know that if our earthly dwelling-place is destroyed we shall have a dwelling from God, an eternal home in heaven, not made by hand. And what we mentioned a little bit before: Our citizenship is in the heavens, whence we also await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus, who will change our lowly body in conformity to his glorious body.