Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Vincent of LĂ©rins (d. c. 450), monk
Commonitory, 23

"Do you not yet understand or comprehend?"

But some one will say, perhaps, Shall there, then, be no progress in
Christ's Church? Certainly; all possible progress. For what being is there,
so envious of men, so full of hatred to God, who would seek to forbid it?
Yet on condition that it be real progress, not alteration of the faith… The
intelligence, then, the knowledge, the wisdom, as well of individuals as of
all, as well of one man as of the whole Church, ought, in the course of
ages and centuries, to increase and make much and vigorous progress; but
yet only in its own kind; that is to say, in the same doctrine, in the same
sense, and in the same meaning.The growth of religion in the soul must be
analogous to the growth of the body, which, though in process of years it
is developed and attains its full size, yet remains still the same. There
is a wide difference between the flower of youth and the maturity of age;
yet they who were once young are still the same now that they have become
old, insomuch that though the stature and outward form of the individual
are changed, yet his nature is one and the same, his person is one and the
same. An infant's limbs are small, a young man's large, yet the infant and
the young man are the same…, there were already present in embryo… In like
manner, it behoves Christian doctrine to follow the same laws of progress,
so as to be consolidated by years, enlarged by time, refined by age… Our
forefathers in the old time sowed wheat in the Church's field. It would be
most unmeet and iniquitous if we, their descendants, instead of the genuine
truth of corn, should reap the counterfeit error of tares (Mt 13:24 sq).
This rather should be the result,—there should be no discrepancy between
the first and the last. From doctrine which was sown as wheat, we should
reap, in the increase, doctrine of the same kind—wheat also; so that when
in process of time any of the original seed is developed, and now
flourishes under cultivation, no change may ensue in the character of the
plant… Therefore,… the same ought to be cultivated and taken care of by the
industry of their children, the same ought to flourish and ripen, the same
ought to advance and go forward to perfection.

Friday, January 29, 2010

high post

The letter to Diognetus (around 200)
§6 (trans.©Maxwell Staniforth; SC 33 bis, p.65)

Sown in the earth

The relation of Christians to the world is that of a soul to the body. As
the soul is diffused through every part of the body, so are Christians
through all the cities of the world. The soul, too, inhabits the body,
while at the same time forming no part of it; and Christians inhabit the
world, but they are not part of the world (Jn 17,16). The soul, invisible
herself, is immured within a visible body; so Christians can be recognized
in the world, but their Christianity itself remains hidden from the eye.
The flesh hates the soul, and wars against her without any provocation,
because she is an obstacle to its own self-indulgence; and the world
similarly hates the Christians without provocation, because they ate
opposed to its pleasures. All the same, the soul loves the flesh and all
its members, despite their hatred for her; and Christians, too, love those
who hate them. The soul, shut up inside the body, nevertheless
holds the body together; and though they are confined within the world as
in a dungeon, it is Christians who hold the world together. The soul, which
is immortal, must dwell in a mortal tabernacle; and Christians, as they
sojourn for a while in the midst of corruptibility here, look for
incorruptibility in the heavens (cf.1Cor 15,50)... Such is the high post of
duty in which God has placed them, and it is their moral duty not to shrink
from it.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

the 4th watch

Saint Hilary (c.315-367), Bishop of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church
Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 14, 13-14 (trans. SC 258, p. 27 rev.)

"About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them"

«Then he made the disciples get into the boat while he dismissed the
crowds. After doing so, he went up to pray. When it was evening, he was
there alone» (cf. Mt 14,22-23). If we are to explain these happenings we
must distinguish between the times. If he was alone in the evening, this
points to his solitude at the hour of his Passion when panic had caused
everyone to scatter. If he made his disciples get into the boat and cross
over the sea while he himself dismissed the crowds, and if, having
dismissed them, he went up a mountain, this means that he directed them to
remain in the Church and to sail across the sea – that is to say, this
world – until, at his return in glory, he would grant salvation to all who
are to be the remnant of Israel (cf. Rom 11,5)... and this people would
give thanks to God his Father and be set firm within his glory and
majesty... «During the fourth watch of the night, he came
toward them.» In the expression «fourth watch of the night» we find the
number corresponding to the signs of his care. Thus, the first watch was
that of the Law; the second, that of the prophets; the third, that of his
coming in the flesh; the fourth is situated in his return in glory. But he
will find the Church declining and hemmed in by the spirit of the
Antichrist and all the distresses of this world. He will come when
anxieties and afflictions are at their height... The disciples will be
terrified even by the coming of the Lord, fearing the images of a reality
distorted by the Antichrist and by the deceitful imaginations infiltrating
their sight. But our good Lord will speak to them directly, casting out
their fear and saying: «It is I», dispersing their fear of imminent
shipwreck by faith in his coming.