Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cyril Of Jerusalem On The Our Father

"Then, after these things, we say that Prayer which the Saviour delivered to His own disciples, with a pure conscience entitling God our Father, and saying, Our Father, which art in heaven. O most surpassing loving-kindness of God! On them who revolted from Him and were in the very extreme at misery has He bestowed such a complete forgiveness of evil deeds, and so great participation of grace, as that they should even call Him Father. Our Father, which art in heaven; and they also are a heaven who bear the image of the heavenly, in whom is God, dwelling and walking in them.

Hallowed be Thy Name. The Name of God is in its nature holy, whether we say so or not; but since it is sometimes profaned among sinners, according to the words, Through you My Name is continually blasphemed among the Gentiles, we pray that in us God's Name may be hollowed; not that it comes to be holy from not being holy, but because it becomes holy in us, when we are made holy, and do things worthy of holiness.

Thy kingdom come. A pure soul can say with boldness, Thy kingdom come; for he who has heard Paul saying, Let not therefore sin reign in your mortal body, and has cleansed himself in deed, and thought, and word, will say to God, Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done as in heaven so on earth. God's divine and blessed Angels do the will of God, as David said in the Psalm, Bless the Lord, all ye Angels of His, mighty in strength, that do His pleasure. So then in effect thou meanest this by thy prayer, "as in the Angels Thy will is done, so likewise be it done on earth in me, O Lord."

Give us this day our substantial bread. This common bread is not substantial bread, but this Holy Bread is substantial, that is, appointed for the substance of the soul. For this Bread goeth not into the belly and is cast out into the draught, but is distributed into thy whole system for the benefit of body and soul. But by this day, he means, "each day," as also Paul said, While it is called today.

And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. For we have many sins. For we offend both in word and in thought, and very many things we do worthy of condemnation; and if we say that we have no sin, we lie, as John says. And we make a covenant with God, entreating Him to forgive us our sins, as we also forgive our neighbours their debts. Considering then what we receive and in return for what, let us not put off nor delay to forgive one another. The offences committed against us are slight and trivial, and easily settled; but those which we have committed against God are great, and need such mercy as His only is. Take heed therefore, lest for the slight and trivial sins against thee thou shut out for thyself forgiveness from God for thy very grievous sins.

And lead us not into temptation, O Lord. Is this then what the Lord teaches us to pray, that we may not be tempted at all? How then is it said elsewhere, "a man untempted, is a man unproved;" and again, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fail into divers temptations? But does perchance the entering into temptation mean the being overwhelmed by the temptation? For temptation is, as it were, like a winter torrent difficult to cross. Those therefore who are not overwhelmed in temptations, pass through, shewing themselves excellent swimmers, and not being swept away by them at all; while those who are not such, enter into them and are overwhelmed. As for example, Judas having entered into the temptation of the love of money, swam not through it, but was overwhelmed and was strangled both in body and spirit. Peter entered into the temptation of the denial; but having entered, he was not overwhelmed by it, but manfully swam through it, and was delivered from the temptation. Listen again, in another place, to a company of unscathed saints, giving thanks for deliverance from temptation, Thou, O God hast prayed us; Thou hast tried us by, fire like as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; Thou layedst afflictions upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; and thou broughtest us out into a place of rest. Thou seest them speaking boldly in regard to their having passed through and not been pierced. But Thou broughtest us out into a place of rest; now their coming into a place of rest is their being delivered from temptation.

But deliver us from the evil. If Lead us not into temptation implied the not being tempted at all, He would not have said, But deliver us from the evil. Now evil is our adversary the devil, from whom we pray to be delivered. Then after completing the prayer thou sayest, Amen; by this Amen, which means "So be it," setting thy seal to the petitions of the divinely-taught prayer."

-Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture XXIII (On the Mysteries V).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Augustine On Marriage

“Indeed, Augustine’s attitude to sexuality, in view of his doctrine of the part played by concupiscence in the transmission of Original Sin, was a remarkably sane one, and very far from the extreme views which have been held by certain other Christian teachers. Like the Apostle, he preferred that all men should be even as he, and rated the life of dedicated virginity above that of marriage; but he regarded Christian marriage as a noble thing, and deprecated any attempt to disparage it. A good example of Augustine’s view will be found in his letter to Ecdicia, a Christian woman with a Christian husband, and the mother of a son. One day, without consulting her husband, she decided to take a vow of continence and to live with him thereafter as a sister and not as a wife. Such a decision was not uncommon in the early Church, and Augustine specifically approves of it, but it had to be by joint consent—pari consensu—so that neither spouse defrauded the other of the marriage debt. This requirement Ecdicia failed to observe; but her husband, a sincere Christian, agreed with her, and for some time the couple lived together in edifying continence. Ecdicia, however, was not satisfied. She assumed the black garb of a widow or a religious, in defiance of her husband’s wishes, and proceeded to squander his good alms, without any regard for the well-being of her small son. Two foreign monks, of doubtful antecedents, enjoyed her hospitality and, in her husband’s absence, she transferred most of his property to them. Exasperated by her behavior, her husband abandoned her, broke his vow of continence, and committed adultery.

It was in these circumstances that Ecdicia wrote to Augustine, no doubt believing that he would approve of her conduct. If so, she was to be disillusioned. Augustine informed her that she was wrong in the first instance to live with her husband as a sister and not as a wife if he were reluctant to do so, and referred her to St. Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians for information about the duties of the married, which she had apparently either not heard or not understood. She was further told that she was wrong to offend her husband in matters of dress. She had been wrong again to give away his possessions in alms to the two monks without his knowledge or consent. By so doing she had deprived him of an opportunity of sharing in charitable deeds to which, if she had acted differently, she might have persuaded him. With greater consideration, she would have postponed giving her alms to the poor lest she should anger her husband and cause him to recoil from his religion, to the detriment of his immortal soul. Which is better: to give bread to the hungry, or save a soul from the devil?

She was further told that, as a married woman, she had no right to say: I will do what I will with my own, and reminded about St. Peter’s teaching on the subjection of the wife to the husband. Finally, she was informed that she should have considered her son’s welfare. Augustine set a high value on the prerogatives of a mother, but he did not consider that these included the right to give away in charity what would become the property of her son. Ecdicia was reminded of the words of the Apostle: If any provideth not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever, and Augustine ended his letter by exhorting her to ask her husband’s forgiveness and to promise that, if he would adhere to his profession of continence, she would obey him in all matters. In the meantime, it was necessary to remind her that her son was under his father’s control rather than hers. The lack of sympathy which she received from the ascetic bishop must have been a great disappointment to the enthusiastic votary.”

-Gerald Bonner in St. Augustine of Hippo.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Law Is The Servant Of Grace

“The Law serves the promises of God in two ways. First, because it exposes sin: ‘For by the law is the knowledge of sin’ (Rom. 3:20). Secondly, because it reveals human infirmity, in the sense that man cannot avoid sin without grace which was not given by the Law. And just as these two things, namely, the knowledge of a disease and the infirmity of the patient is a great inducement to seek medical treatment, so the knowledge of sin and of one’s impotency lead us to seek Christ. Thus, therefore, is the Law the servant of grace, inasmuch as it affords a knowledge of sin and actual experience of one’s impotency.”

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Galatians.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Well, You Asked For It

During the time of the Judges in Israel, the Israelites decided that they no longer wanted to be a holy nation separate from all the others. Instead, they wished to have a king just like the other nations. This was the gravest act of rejection that the people of Israel committed toward God, for they were to be a holy nation, a kingdom of priests, with God Himself as their King. But they wanted an earthly king...and God gave them what they wanted.

Today in America, the day after the Presidential election, it should be a glorious day, for we have elected a black president for the first time in the history of our nation. Yet instead of being a day of rejoicing for black Americans (and all Americans), it really is a day of sadness. We wanted Obama as our president and God gave us what we wanted. So why is today such a horrible day? Why should we not rejoice at having a black president? Well, we should rejoice at having a black president, but not this black president. This black president-elect is a notorious supporter of abortion and infanticide (not to mention that his vice-president elect has sold his soul to Satan and has given much scandal to Catholics everywhere). This black president is in the pocket of Planned Parenthood, the biggest abortion provider in the world and it is a fact that not only was Planned Parenthood founded by the horribly racist eugenicist, Margaret Sanger, but abortions are the greatest killer of black people in this country. “The oppressed has become the oppressor.”

Our country has become so morally depraved that we have elected as our leader a man who advocates infanticide. Shades of King Herod and Pharaoh. Mark Twain was correct in saying that “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

I’ve also heard that Obama won the Catholic vote. I pray for all the Catholics who blatantly flaunted the teaching of the Catholic Church and put their immortal souls at risk by cooperating in this grave evil.

Well, you asked for it America. And you got it. I believe it was Billy Graham’s daughter who said concerning our country’s immorality, “If God does not judge America, then He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”