Patristic Lectionary – Most Holy Trinity – 12 June 2022


Patristic Lectionary – Most Holy Trinity – 12 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: Anonymous, Holy Trinity, 15th-century choir stalls, Hauterive Abbey, Switzerland. ]

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

The Great Mystery of the Will of God

When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”, God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit.

The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

St. Gregory Nazianzen

Oration on Holy Baptism 40,41-44 (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2:7, trans. Charles Browne and James Swallow)

Before all else, I beg you, keep the good deposit of the faith, by which I live and work; with which I endure all that is so distressful and despise all delights; that is, hold fast to the confession of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This I commit unto you today; with this I will baptize you and make you grow. This I give you to share, and to defend all your life, the one Godhead and power, found in the Three in unity, and comprising the Three separately, not unequal in substance or nature, neither increased nor diminished by superiorities or inferiorities; in every respect equal, in every respect the same; just as the beauty and the greatness of the heavens is one. This is the infinite conjunction of three infinite Ones, each is God when considered in Himself; as the Father, so the Son; as the Son, so the Holy Spirit.

No sooner do I conceive of the One than I am illumined by the splendour of the Three; no sooner do I distinguish them than I am carried back to the One. When I think of any One of the Three I think of him as the Whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking of escapes me. I cannot grasp the greatness of that One so as to attribute a greater greatness to the Rest. When I contemplate the Three together, I see but one torch, and cannot divide or measure out the Undivided Light.

I should like to call the Father the greater, because from him flows both the equality and the being of the equals, but I am afraid to use the word ‘origin’, lest I should make him the origin of inferiors and thus insult him by creating a precedence of honour. For to put down those who are from him gives no glory to him as the source. I fear you should take hold of this word ‘greater’, and divide the nature, using the word greater in all senses, although in reality it does not apply to the nature but only to origination. For in the consubstantial Persons there is nothing greater or less in terms of substance.

Are you afraid of being reproached with Tritheism? Just accept this one good thing, the unity in the Three, and leave me to fight the battle. Let me be the ship-builder, and you use the ship. See how great is my indulgence; see the goodness of the Spirit; the war shall be mine, yours the achievement; I will be under fire, and you shall live in peace; only join with your defender in prayer. I have three stones which I will sling at the Philistine; I have three floods against the brushwood with which I will consecrate the sacrifice with water, raising the most unexpected fire; and I will throw down the prophets of shame by the power of the Sacrament.

What need have I any more of speech? It is the time for teaching, not for controversy. I protest before God and the elect angels: be baptized in this faith. If there is any other writing on your heart than that which my teaching demands, come and have the writing changed; I am no unskilled calligrapher of these truths. I write that which is written upon my own heart; I teach that which I have been taught, and I have kept it from the beginning even up to the time of these grey hairs.

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