Whether they like it or not, those who are outside the Church are our brothers–St. Augustine

From a discourse on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop
Whether they like it or not,
those who are outside the Church are our brothers

via divineoffice.org

We entreat you, brothers, as earnestly as we are able, to have charity, not only for one another, but also for those who are outside the Church. Of these some are still pagans, who have not yet made an act of faith in Christ. Others are separated, insofar as they are joined with us in professing faith in Christ, our head, but are yet divided from the unity of his body. My friends, we must grieve over these as over our brothers; and they will only cease to be so when they no longer say our Father.

The prophet refers to some men saying: When they say to you: You are not our brothers, you are to tell them: You are our brothers. Consider whom he intended by these words. Were they the pagans? Hardly; for nowhere either in Scripture or in our traditional manner of speaking do we find them called our brothers. Nor could it refer to the Jews, who do not believe in Christ. Read Saint Paul and you will see that when he speaks of “brothers,” without any qualification, he refers always to Christians. For example, he says: Why do you judge your brother or why do you despise your brother? And again: You perform iniquity and common fraud, and this against your brothers.

Those then who tell us: You are not our brothers, are saying that we are pagans. That is why they want to baptize us again, claiming that we do not have what they can give. Hence their error of denying that we are their brothers. Why then did the prophet tell us: Say to them: You are our brothers? It is because we acknowledge in them that which we do not repeat. By not recognizing our baptism, they deny that we are their brothers; on the other hand, when we do not repeat their baptism but acknowledge it to be our own, we are saying to them: You are our brothers.

If they say, “Why do you seek us? What do you want of us?” we should reply: You are our brothers. They may say, “Leave us alone. We have nothing to do with you.” But we have everything to do with
you, for we are one in our belief in Christ; and so we should be in one body, under one head.

And so, dear brothers, we entreat you on their behalf, in the name of the very source of our love, by whose milk we are nourished, and whose bread is our strength, in the name of Christ our Lord and his gentle love. For it is time now for us to show them great love and abundant compassion by praying to God for them. May he one day give them a clear mind to repent and to realize that they have nothing now but the sickness of their hatred, and the stronger they think they are, the weaker they become. We entreat you then to pray for them, for they are weak, given to the wisdom of the flesh, to fleshly and carnal things, but yet they are our brothers. They celebrate the same sacraments as we, not indeed with us, but still the same. They respond with the same Amen, not with us, but still the same. And so pour out your hearts for them in prayer to God.

Desire to See God

From the Proslogion by Saint Anselm, bishop
Desire for the vision of God

Insignificant man, escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts. Break off from your cares and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and labors. Make a little time for God and rest a while in him.

Enter into your mind’s inner chamber. Shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek him; and when you have shut the door, look for him. Speak now to God and say with your whole heart: I seek your face; your face, Lord, I desire.

Lord, my God, teach my heart where and how to seek you, where and how to find you. Lord, if you are not here where shall I look for you in your absence? Yet if you are everywhere, why do I not see you when you are present? But surely you dwell in “light inaccessible.” And where is light inaccessible? How shall I approach light inaccessible? Or who will lead me and bring me into it that I may see you there? And then, by what signs and under what forms shall I seek you? I have never seen you, Lord my God; I do not know your face.

Lord most high, what shall this exile do, so far from you? What shall your servant do, tormented by love of you and cast so far from your face? He yearns to see you, and your face is too far from him. He desires to approach you, and your dwelling is unapproachable. he longs to find you, and does not know your dwelling place. He strives to look for you, and does not know your face.

Lord, you are my God and you are my Lord, and I have never seen you. You have made me and remade me, and you have given me all the good things I possess and still I do not know you. I was made in order to see you, and I have not yet done that for which I was made.

Lord, how long will it be? How long, Lord, will you forget us? How long will you turn your face away from us? When will you look upon us and hear us? When will you enlighten our eyes and show us your face? When will you give yourself back to us?

Look upon us, Lord, hear us and enlighten us, show us your very self. Restore yourself to us that it may go well with us whose life is so evil without you. Take pity on our efforts and our striving toward you, for we have no strength apart form you.

Teach me to seek you, and when I seek you show yourself to me, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me, nor can I find you unless you show yourself to me. Let me seek you in desiring you and desire you in seeking you, find you in loving you.

A Flower Rises from the Root of Jesse

From a treatise On the Hail Mary by Baldwin of Canterbury, bishop

A flower rises from the root of Jesse

Every day we devoutly greet the most Blessed Virgin Mary with the angel’s greeting and we usually add: Blessed is the fruit of your womb. After she was greeted by the Virgin, Elizabeth added this phrase as if she were echoing the salutation of the angel: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. This is the fruit of which Isaiah spoke: On that day the shoot of the Lord shall be splendid and radiant–the sublime fruit of earth. What is this fruit but the holy one of Israel, the seed of Abraham, the shoot of the Lord, the flower arising from the root of Jesse, the fruit of life, whom we have shared?

Blessed surely in seed and blessed in the shoot, blessed in the flower, blessed in the gift, finally blessed in thanksgiving and praise, Christ, the seed of Abraham, was brought forth from the seed of David into the flesh.

He alone among men is found perfected in every good quality, for the Spirit was given to him without measure so that he alone could fulfill all justice. For his justice is sufficient for all nations, according to Scriptures. As the earth brings forth its buds, and as the garden germinates its own seed, so the Lord God shall bring forth justice and praise before all the nations. For this is the shoot of justice, which the flower of glory adorns with its blessings when it has grown. But how great is this glory? How can anyone think of anything more glorious, or rather, how can anyone conceive of this at all? For the flower rises from the root of Jesse. You ask: “How far?” Surely it rises even to the highest place, because Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. His magnificence is elevated above the heavens so that he, the issue of the Lord, is splendid and glorious, the sublime fruit of the earth.

But what is our benefit from this fruit? What other than the fruit of blessing from the blessed fruit? From this seed, this shoot, this flower, surely the fruit of blessing comes forth. It has come even to us; first as a seed it is planted through the grace of pardon, then germinated with the increase of perfection, and finally it flowers in the hope or the attainment of glory. For the fruit was blessed by God, and in God, so that God may be glorified through it. For us, too, the fruit was blessed, so that blessed by God we may be glorified in him through the promise spoken to Abraham. God made the fruit a blessing for all nations.

Copyright Joann Nelander 2011

All rights reserved

Office of Readings – St. Gregory of Nazianzen

From a sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzen, bishop

Serve Christ in the poor

Blessed are the merciful, because they shall obtain mercy, says the Scripture. Mercy is not the least of the beatitudes. Again: Blessed is he who is considerate to the needy and the poor. Once more: Generous is the man who is merciful and lends. In another place: All day the just man is merciful and lends. Let us lay hold of this blessing, let us earn the name of being considerate, let us be generous.

Not even night should interrupt you in your duty of mercy. Do not say: Come back and I will give you something tomorrow. There should be no delay between your intention and your good deed. Generosity is the one thing that cannot admit of delay.

Share your bread with the hungry, and bring the needy and the homeless into your house, with a joyful and eager heart. He who does acts of mercy should do so with cheerfulness. The grace of a good deed is doubled when it is done with promptness and speed. What is given with a bad grace or against one’s will is distasteful and far from praiseworthy.

When we perform an act of kindness we should rejoice and not be sad about it. If you undo the shackles and the thongs, says Isaiah, that is, if you do away with miserliness and counting the cost, with hesitation and grumbling, what will be the result? Something great and wonderful! What a marvellous reward there will be: Your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will rise up quickly. Who would not aspire to light and healing.

If you think that I have something to say, servants of Christ, his brethren and co-heirs, let us visit Christ whenever we may; let us care for him, feed him, clothe him, welcome him, honor him, not only at a meal, as some have done, or by anointing him, as Mary did, or only by lending him a tomb, like Joseph of Arimathaea, or by arranging for his burial, like Nicodemus, who loved Christ half-heartedly, or by giving him gold, frankincense and myrrh, like the Magi before all these others.

The Lord of all asks for mercy, not sacrifice, and mercy is greater than myriads of fattened lambs. Let us then show him mercy in the persons of the poor and those who today are lying on the ground, so that when we come to leave this world they may receive us into everlasting dwelling places, in Christ our Lord himself, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Church Fathers and Lent

As celebrations for Mardi Gras are well underway, my thought is obvious.  For God’s sake and ours, there’s got to be a better way.  The Divine Office for today includes this from the Office of Readings:

“I thought to myself, ‘Very well, I will try pleasure and see what enjoyment has to offer.’ And there it was: vanity again! This laughter, I reflected, is a madness, this pleasure no use at all. I resolved to have my body cheered with wine, my heart still devoted to wisdom; I resolved to embrace folly to see what made mankind happy, and what men do under heaven in the few days they have to live.”

My reflections then turned to wisdom, stupidity, folly. For instance, what can the successor of a king do? What has been done already. More is to be had from wisdom than from folly, as from light than from darkness; this, of course, I see:”   Ecclesiastes 2:1-3
“The wise man sees ahead,
the fool walks in the dark.”   Ecclesiastes 2:14

The Church Fathers showed the Church the way though centuries of attack and heresy.  They speak loudly today as the world speaks heretically louder than ever.  Now the attacks on the Church and Truth are both more blatant and more subtle.  So ready, set, go!  Take on the liars for Lent!

For the “wise man”  looking forward to this time of new submission, here’s the ticket!

Compiled by Church Year. Net

Church Father Lenten Reading Plan Logo

2009 Date Day in Lenten Fast Lite Reading
2/25 1 Epistle to Diognetus: 1-6
2/26 2 Epistle to Diognetus: 7-12
2/27 3 St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter To the Ephesians: 1-7
2/28 4 St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Ephesians: 8-14
3/2 5 St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter To the Ephesians: 15-21
3/3 6 St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter To the Magnesians: 1-5
3/4 7 St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter To the Magnesians: 6-10
3/5 8 St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter To the Magnesians: 11-15
3/6 9 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 1-7
3/7 10 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 8-14
3/9 11 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 15-21
3/10 12 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 22-29
3/11 13 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 30-37
3/12 14 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 38-45
3/13 15 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 46-53
3/14 16 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 54-60
3/16 17 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 61-68
3/17 18 St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church (Treatise I): 1-9
3/18 19 St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church (Treatise I): 10-18
3/19 20 St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church (Treatise I): 19-21
3/20 21 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 1-9
3/21 22 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 10-16
3/23 23 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 17-25
3/24 24 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 26-33
3/25 25 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 34-41
3/26 26 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 42-49
3/27 27 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 50-58
3/28 28 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 59-66
3/30 29 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 67-73
3/31 30 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 74-81
4/1 31 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 82-89
4/2 32 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 90-94
4/3 33 St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XX
4/4 34 St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXII
4/6 35 St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXIII (1-11)
4/7 36 St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXIII (12-23)
4/8 37 St. Ambrose of Milan: Concerning the Mysteries: 1-4
4/9 38 St. Ambrose of Milan: Concerning the Mysteries: 5-9
4/10 39 St. Leo the Great: Sermon XLIX (On Lent XI): complete
4/11 40 St. Leo the Great: Sermon LXXII (On the Lord’s Resurrection): complete

Click on  compilation of Lenten readings.

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