The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Commentaries for Weekdays (Years I and II) and Sundays (Years A, B and C) and Solemnities

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 22, 2018

NOTE: Solemnities and feasts are listed at the end of this post. This part is not yet complete. If you are looking for commentaries on the Sunday readings in the Extraordinary Form go here.



First Week of Advent.
Second Week of Advent.
Third Week of Advent.
Fourth Week of Advent.

Note: Traditionally Epiphany is celebrated on January 6. In the USA it is celebrated on the Sunday following January 6.

Dec. 25. Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Dec 24).
Dec. 25. Mass During the Night: The Nativity of the Lord (Midnight Mass).
Dec. 25. Mass at Dawn: The Nativity of the Lord.
Dec. 25. Mass During the Day: The Nativity of the Lord.

Sunday Within the Octave of Christmas (Feast of the Holy Family). If a Sunday does not fall between Dec. 26 and Dec 31 then the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on Dec. 30.

Dec. 26. The Feast of St Stephen, the Church’s First Martyr.
Dec. 27. The Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist.
Dec 28. Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs.
Dec. 29. Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas.
Dec. 30. Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas. See next note.
!!! Dec 30. Feast of the Holy Family (Non-Sunday). If a Sunday does not fall between Dec 26-31 then the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on this date.
Jan 1. Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
Jan. 2. Memorial of St Basil the Great and St Gregory Nanzianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church.
Jan. 3. Christmas Weekday.
Jan . 4. Memorial St Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious.
Jan. 5. Memorial of St John Nuemann, Bishop.
Jan. 6. Christmas Weekday. Traditionally this is Epiphany. In the USA the Epiphany is celebrated on the first Sunday after Jan 6. For commentary on the Epiphany readings see below, following Jan 8.
Jan. 7. Christmas Weekday. NOTE: in 2018 this date falls on the Sunday after Jan 6. IN the USA this Sunday is celebrated as the Epiphany. See the link for the Epiphany below, following Jan 8.
Jan 8.

!!! The Epiphany of the Lord.
Epiphany to the Baptism of the Lord.

Each week contains the beginning and ending Sundays (e.g., the 4th week contains Sundays 4 and 5). We are currently in daily cycle 1 and Sunday cycle C. The new Sunday cycle always begins on the First Sunday of Advent; and the daily cycle on the next day.

1st WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
2nd WEEK: Year 1Year 2.
3rd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
4th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
5th WEEK: Year 1Year 2.
6th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
7th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
8th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
9th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
10th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
11th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
12th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
13th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
14th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
15th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
16th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
17th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
18th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
19th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
20th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
21st WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
22nd WEEK:  Year1Year 2.
23rd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
24th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
25th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
26th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
27th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
28th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
29th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
30th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
31st WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
32nd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
33rd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
34th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.


Ash Wednesday Through Second Sunday of Lent.
Second Week of Lent.
Third Week of Lent.
Fourth Week of Lent.
Fifth Week of Lent.
!!! Holy Week.


Easter Sunday to Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter).
Second Week of Easter.
Third Week of Easter.
Fourth Week of Easter.
Fifth Week of Easter.
Sixth Week of Easter. Includes Ascension Thursday.
Seventh Week of Easter. Includes Pentecost.

Some of these are also listed above (e.g., during the Christmas season).

December 8. Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Dec 12. Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Dec 24-25. Christmas: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. 4 Masses below.

Dec 26. Feast of St Stephen the Proto-Martyr.

Dec 27. Feast of St John the Evangelist.

Dec 28. Feast of the Holy Innocents.

Jan 1. Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Mother of God (Octave of Christmas).

Jan 6. Solemnity of the Epiphany.

Jan 25. Feast of the Conversion of St Paul.

Feb 2. Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

Feb 22. Feast of the Chair of St Peter.

Mar 19. Feast of St Joseph, Husband of Mary.

Mar 25. Feast of the Annunciation.

Apr. 25. Feast of St Mark the Evangelist.

May 1. Feast of St Joseph the Worker.

May 3. Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles.

May 14. Feast of St Matthias, Apostle.

May 31. Feast of the Visitation.

Second Friday After Pentecost: Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Year A.  Year B.  Year C.

Jun 24. Vigil and Mass of the Day. Feast of the Birth of St John the Baptist.

Jun 29. Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles.

Jul 3. Feast of St Thomas the Apostle.

Jul 22. Feast of St Mary Magdalene.

Jul 25. Feast of St James the Elder, Apostle.

Aug 6. Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Year A.

Aug 10. Feast of St Lawrence the Deacon.

Aug 15. Vigil and Mass of the Day. Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Aug 24. Feast of St Bartholomew, Apostle.

Sept 8. Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Sept 14. Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Sept 21. Feast of St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.

Sept 29. Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels.

Oct 18. Feast of St Luke the Evangelist.

Oct 28. Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles.

Nov 1. Solemnity of All Saints.

Nov 2. The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.

Nov 9. Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

Nov 30. The Feast of St Andrew, Apostle.

Last Sunday of the Year: Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Always falls on last Sunday of the Year.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 11:25-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2020

Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones.


“At that time.” According to St. Luke 10:21, this occurred on the return of the seventy-two disciples from their mission, and while they were boasting of the success that attended them, and of the miracles they wrought. From this, our Redeemer takes occasion to give expression to the following, and then He “answered.” However, the word, “answer,” is frequently used in the SS. Scriptures, when nothing in the form of a question demanding an answer, preceded; and merely means, to enter at once on some discourse. Here, then, it may be very probably connected with the foregoing denunciation of the Capharnaites (Capernaumite)   thus:—Jesus, considering within Himself the obstinate impenitence of the Capharnaites, &c., and the just judgment of God, withholding His lights and graces in punishment of their sins, consoles Himself with the thought, that such was according to the just dispensation of His Heavenly Father; and He exultingly bursts forth into acts of thanksgiving for His adorable dispensation. St. Luke says (Lk 10:21), “He rejoiced in the Holy Ghost,” and thus consoles Himself with the idea that His Father willed it so. “Answering,” may also have relation to the thoughts passing in our Saviour’s mind regarding this wonderful economy of God, and the obduracy of the Capharnaites.


“I confess to Thee,” i.e., I praise Thee, I extol Thee, I give Thee thanks.


“O Father,” of whom I am alone the eternal, consubstantial, well-beloved Son.


“Lord of heaven and earth,” having supreme dominion over all creatures, angels, and men. It is not, therefore, from infirmity or weakness that He has not subdued the rebellious wills of the Capharnaites. The words also convey, that He can do as He thinks proper, in heaven and on earth; and that, therefore, any disposition He makes regarding His creatures, is supremely just and equitable.


“Hast hid,” by not imparting powerful interior graces, and in punishment of their obstinate pride, withholding those lights which would efficaciously influence them to profit by the external graces of preaching, with which they were favoured.


“These things.” These mysteries of grace and glory preached by our Redeemer and His Apostles.


“From the wise and prudent,” viz., the Pharisees and others, who were endowed with human learning and abilities. These were the “wise,” to whom St. Paul refers (1 Cor. 1), as rejected in the work of the Gospel; worldly wise, “wise” in their own conceits, haughty and proud, devoid of the humble docility necessary for embracing the faith.


“And hast revealed them to little ones,” i.e., hast given Thy abundant, illuminating graces for embracing the difficult and abstruse truths of faith to the humble and the poor (the Greek for “little ones,” νηπίοις, means, infants), who, with the humble docility of children, embrace what is proposed to them.


These are the foolish, the weak, and the contemptible things, which God has chosen, to confound the wise, the strong, and the things of consideration in this world. (1 Cor. 1) Humble, unlearned fishermen, has He replenished with all knowledge, and placed on a level with the princes of His people.


But how could our Lord rejoice and praise his Father for having concealed these things from the proud? As a great evil, should it not be a subject for tears and sorrow? Resp. Thanksare not rendered precisely for having concealed these things; but, because, having concealed these truths from the wise, He was pleased to reveal them to the humble. Precisely, as it is said (Rom. 6:17), “But, thanks to God, that you were the servants of sin, but have obeyed,” &c., which means, thanks to God, that, having been formerly servants of sin, you have now obeyed, &c. He thanks His Father for having chosen men, like infants, and enlightened them to disseminate his faith, passing over the great ones of this world. Others say, thanks and praise are rendered for both. For, when “He hides these things,” He shows His Justice; and when “He reveals them to the little ones,” He displays His Mercy. The judgments of God, whether in the matter of Justice or Mercy, are ever equitable; ever deserving of praise.


Mat 11:26 Yea, Father: for so hath it seemed good in thy sight.


“Yea” (in Greek, ναι, nay), briefly repeats the former acts of praise, and is strongly commendatory of the workings of God’s adorable providence. “I confess,” is here understood, to be repeated, as if to say: Again and again, I thank Thee, O Father, for this ordination of Thy adorable providence, which is to be ever praised and glorified.


In all things, therefore, coming from the hands of God, we should humbly bow down and give Him thanks, and from our inmost heart, conform to His adorable will, saying always, even when things go against us, “Fiat voluntas tua sicut in cœlo,” &c (Thy will be done in heaven, &c). “Ita, Pater, quia sic placitum fait ante te.” (Yea, Father, for so hath it seemed good in thy sight) “Fiat, laudatur et superexaltetur in æternum, justissima, altissima et amabilissima voluntas Dei in omnibus.” (Let it be praised and exalted above all things forever, the most righteous, highest and most pleasing to the will of God in all things) God wills it, no further inquiries, reasoning, or murmurings about it.


Mat 11:27 All things are delivered to me by my Father. And no one knoweth the Son but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him.


Lest it might be imagined, from our Lord’s thanking His Father, for having revealed the mysteries of grace to the little ones, &c., that Christ Himself had not this power, He adds, “all things,” all power, all dominion, all knowledge, &c., were communicated to Me “by My Father,” at My Incarnation. Others say, at My eternal generation. These interpretations, however, amount to the same; or, rather, the latter is included in the former. Since it is from His eternal generation, that the gifts bestowed on Him at His Incarnation flowed, therefore, if “My Father” be omnipotent and omniscient, so am I; and I can, therefore, reprobate or save. The mysteries of grace and glory have been concealed by My Father, and also by Me, from the wise, and imparted to the humble.


“And no one knoweth the Son, but the Father.” This may regard comprehensive, perfect, natural knowledge. This the Son also has, and the Holy Ghost. As the words, “and he to whom it shall please the Father to reveal Him,” although not expressed here, because they are included in verse 25, “hast revealed,” &c., are still implied, if we look to the words, “and to whom it shall please the Son to reveal,” it is better to understand it of the knowledge of the Father, known from revelation, as it is only of such knowledge, man is capable; such knowledge alone can be communicated to him.


“Neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal Him.” These latter words are not expressed above, regarding the Father; because, revelation was before attributed to the Father (v. 25), and, moreover, it is through the Son that God the Father reveals Himself and the Godhead to the world. “Manifestavi nomen tuum hominibus,” &c. (John 17:6) The equality of the Son with the Father is shown here. For, He knows all regarding the Father, as the Father does regarding Him, which is put more strongly by St. Luke 10:22, “And no one knoweth who the Son is but the Father; and who the Father is but the Son.” Again, “the Son reveals it to whom He pleases.” The Holy Ghost is not included, since the exceptive or exclusive words applied to one Person of the Trinity do not regard the other Divine Persons, who possess equally the Divine nature. They only regard creatures. No one knows the mysteries regarding the Father, nor those regarding the Son, except those to whom they may be pleased to reveal them. Hence, when the Father reveals (v. 25), the Son also reveals. St. Chrysostom observes that the words, “to whom it shall please the Son to reveal,” show the Son to be equal to the Father in power and dominion. For, although Christ reveals as man, and through His human nature, still, this nature subsists in a Divine Person; and this man, Christ is God also, and as God, equal to the Father. Others connect the words of this verse with the following verse, “come to Me,” &c. As all power of saving, all dominion, all knowledge, have been communicated to Me by My Father, to be imparted by Me to whomsoever I please, I do, therefore, invite you all to “come,” &c.


Mat 11:28 Come to me all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.


“Come to Me,” approach Me, with the proper dispositions of faith, hope, devotion, &c., with a desire to observe all My precepts, who am equal to the Father in all things, the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, to whom all things were delivered by My Father, having, therefore, at My disposal the dispensation of every good gift, including the perfect liberation from all evils incident to human life; “all you that labour,” &c., groaning under the intolerable burden of sin, and its concomitant evils, viz., the tyranny of concupiscence and your corrupt passions, the remorse of conscience, and the dread of the fearful punishments of sin; and who, moreover, are groaning under the yoke of the Mosaic law.


“And I will refresh you.” The Greek word for “refresh” (αναπαυσω = anapauso), means, rest, cessation from trouble. Hence, the words signify: I will grant you respite and rest; respite from your temporal miseries, and vexatious sufferings, which I shall temper for you, by granting you grace to bear them patiently; rest, from the burdensome uneasiness ever attendant on sin, and the consequent remorse, with dread of punishment, by remitting them; rest, also, from the intolerable yoke of Mosaic ceremonies, which neither you nor your fathers, could bear (Acts 15:10). So that all are sweetly invited, without exception: Gentiles, whose burden of temporal miseries He alleviates, whose sins, both as to guilt and eternal consequences, He remits; and Jews, whom, in addition to the foregoing benefits, He frees, from the galling yoke of the Mosaic ceremonial law.


Mat 11:29 Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: And you shall find rest to your souls.


“Take My yoke upon you.” “My yoke,” in opposition to the yoke of the Mosaic law; and the heavy yoke of sin, concupiscence, and its consequences, under which you have been hitherto groaning, placed on your shoulders by your former spiritual taskmasters.


“My yoke,” which you will not be left to bear alone, which I shall help you to carry. “My yoke,” which I bore before you, and gave you an example to carry. By “yoke,” is meant the law of the Gospel in all its parts, called a “yoke,” because, like every other law, it binds us to certain duties, and forbids us to transgress certain limits. It is also called a “burden,” because, we are obliged to bear it, to live according to it, and to fulfil it. It consists in bringing the Intellect into the captivity of faith, and the Will into the captivity of obedience, so as to observe all His commandments.


“And learn of Me, because I am Meek,” &c., which some thus interpret: Among the virtues and precepts inculcated in My Gospel, there are two virtues in particular, which I am specially desirous you should learn of Me, as your Divine Master. These are, humility and meekness. These are the special virtues, which shall serve as the surest means of procuring perseverance in bearing My sweet yoke; which alone can secure that desirable peace and rest surpassing all understanding. It is to pride and the angry desire of vengeance—vices, the opposite of humility and meekness—that all the miseries of this world are to be attributed. These are the virtues which we can imitate our Lord in cultivating, and from which no one can be dispensed. This is the interpretation of St. Augustine: “Discite a me non mundum fabricare, non cuncta visibilia et invisibilia creare … sed quoniam mitis sum et humilis corde” (Learn of me not to raise the fabric of the world, not to create all things visible and invisible, not in the world so created to work miracles and raise the dead; but, “that I am meek and lowly in heart). Our Lord tells us to copy after Himself in the practice of these virtues in particular (Serm. 69).


Others, with Maldonatus, &c., say, the meaning is: Take upon you My yoke, &c.; be not afraid of approaching Me, be your unworthiness and sinfulness what it may; rather, come with confidence, and learn, from your experience of Me, that I am not, like the Scribes and Pharisees, a haughty, morose, repulsive tyrant, to scare you away; but, on the contrary, a meek and gentle master, who will receive you with the greatest kindness and benignity, with truly humble condescension and affability.


This latter interpretation would seem to accord better with the context. For, the words of this verse would seem to be but a fuller explanation and development of the subject of the preceding verse (28). “Come” (v. 28), by your dispositions of heart to observe My law and obey My will and ordinances, is more fully expressed in the words of this verse, “Take up My yoke upon you.” “To Me,” who will not repel you; “because, I am meek and humble of heart,” gentle, kind in My government and intercourse, and you will find Me to be such. “And I will refresh you” (v. 28), is the same as, “you will find rest to your souls.” (The Greek for “refresh” and “rest,” is the same, ἀνἀπαυσιν = anapausin. See verse 28). This rest, this refreshment, results not from the observance of the precepts regarding meekness and humility of heart merely, although these form a portion of God’s law very effectual for begetting peace and rest; but, from bearing the “yoke” of Christ in its fulness, embracing the observance of all His commandments, the love of God and our neighbour, all that regards faith and morals. This is quite clear from the words of Jeremias (6:16), to which our Lord here manifestly alludes, also from Sirach 51:34-35.


Mat 11:30 For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.


If we adopt the interpretation of St. Augustine, given above, then the words will mean; by practising the virtues of meekness and humility, after His example, which are the surest means for enabling us to take up the yoke of Christ, and observe all His other precepts, we will be sure to enjoy peace of soul, because, they shall divest the yoke of Christ, or, the observance of His commandments, of bitter, galling irritation—the effect commonly produced by a “yoke.” They shall render the observance of God’s commandments, neither galling nor irritating; on the contrary, they shall beget in their observance, feelings of sweet benignity and contentment; and as a burden is oppressive from its weight, they shall render this “burden” “light” and easy to be carried, “and His commandments are not heavy” (1 John 5:3).


In the latter interpretation, the words of this verse are a proof, that they would find rest for their souls, in approaching Christ, in experiencing His meekness and humility, and in carrying “His yoke,” as explained above.


The “yoke” of Christ, far from galling or irritating, is “sweet,” comparatively, if contrasted with the yoke of the Mosaic law, “which neither they nor their fathers could bear;” and with the “yoke” of sin, and the slavery of the devil, which, though sweet and gratifying to corrupt nature, still leaves behind it bitterness, remorse of conscience, and ultimately plunges men for ever into hell.


It is “sweet” in itself, and “light,” because, His law is perfectly in accordance with the natural law, which the Gospel, with the mere addition of some positive precepts, more fully developes. Again, it is mild in regard to sinners, and has removed the rigorous punishments of the Old Law. Again, it carries with it abundant help and graces, not given in the Old Law, for self-fulfilment, and holds out promises the most consoling and abundant, of the fulfilment of which it gives us a sure earnest and foretaste here in the peace of God, which it bestows, exceeding all understanding. Finally, it proposes love and charity, as the sweet motive of our actions, and not, like the Old Law, the servile fear of punishments. “Ubi amatur, non laboratur; aut si laboratur, labor amatur” (St. Augustine).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Father Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Ephesians 1:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 28, 2020

Chapter l In this chapter the Apostle declares the purpose of Almighty God, from all eternity, to call the Ephesian believers, and all other faithful followers of Jesus Christ, to grace and salvation; and prays that they may he enlightened to see the splendour and sublimity of this heavenly calling, and of the hope cf sharing the greatness:and felicity of Jesus Christ, seated in glory at the right hand of God.

Eph 1:1. Paul, Apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God, to all the saints who are at Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus;

Apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God. This statement is frequently repeated by St. Paul, as at the beginning of both the Epistles to the Corinthians, that to the Colossians, &c. It implies that a vocation depending on the will of God is required for every minister of Christ, whether called to preach the Gospel or stand at the altar. It may suggest to every priest to consider and reflect upon the motives and circumstances which led him to enter the sacerdotal office, so that if he thinks there existed any defect in his vocation, it may be supplied by penance.

To all the saints. So also in both the Epistles to the Corinthians, and elsewhere. For all Christians are saints, and  called to sanctity, though, it may be, in different degrees. They came forth immaculate from the fount of baptism, and with that beginning a profane and worldly life can hardly be consistent. At least they should aspire in some degree to sanctity.

Eph 1:2. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace. St. Paul prays for grace and peace for his brethren, in almost all his Epistles. Grace and peace are what we should continually ask of Christ, for ourselves and others. Grace includes every gift necessary for eternal life ; peace is the firm, unshaken, and tranquil. possession of these spiritual gifts.

Eph 1:3. Blessed the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in every spiritual benediction,, in the heavenly places, in Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no verb in this sentence, either in the Vulgate or the Greek text. We may understand, either blessed is, or blessed be. It is a theological truth that God is, and ought to be, blessed ; the recognition of this truth is an act of piety in the creature towards the Creator. In this verse the Apostle blesses God. and affirms that God has blessed us. In the first, to bless means to praise, in the second it signifies to do good; but both significations are radically the same, because to praise, and to do good, proceed alike from a good will, and have their origin in charity. We bless God, when we thank him for his benefits, and God blesses us when he bestows those benefits. For God’s blessing confers good, in which it differs from the ineffectual, and sometimes false, benedictions of man.

In every spiritual benediction. The word in is redundant by a Hebrew idiom. With every spiritual benediction. In saying spiritual benediction, the Apostle means to contrast the blessings we receive from God, with those he promised to, and conferred upon, his ancient people, which were not spiritual, but material. He promised’ earthly blessings to the Jews, he has promised the heavenly to Christians. The New Testament is distant from the Old, as heaven from earth. In the ancient Scriptures, as for example in Lev. 26, Deut. 7, or 28, we find only earthly advantages secured or offered to the people of Israel. But, in reading the New Testament, we find no promises of terrestrial good. Blessed are the pour in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Who loveth me, we will come and make our dwelling with him Matt. 5:3, Jn 14:23. The followers of Christ are, on the contrary, warned to expect persecution and affliction. You shall mourn and weep. hi the world you shall have trouble. Jn 16:20, 33. The spirit of the Christian faith is to despise earth, and aspire to heaven, to be withdrawn from what is carnal, the more abundantly to possess that which is spiritual.

In the heavenly, understand regions or places, not literally but in figure, because the nature of the heavenly cannot be fully apprehended by our limited intelligence. God has blessed us in the heavenly places, because there he dwells; or more properly, has blessed us with celestial gifts which are one day to raise us to heaven.

In Christ. That is, through Christ ; or by the faith of Christ; or because the possession of Christ is the promised blessing which awaits us in the heavenly places, whither he has ascended. The preposition in is omitted in the Greek, but probably by mistake of a transcriber, the expression as it stands being: a solecism and ungrammatical. Christ is the means or channel by which every blessing of God reaches us; and by which our praise and benediction ascends in answer to God. Through him, with him, and in him, is all honour and glory given to God omnipotent, not by man only, but by the holy Angels as well.

Eph 1:4. As he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we might be holy and immaculate, in his sight, in charity.

As he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. This particularizes and describes the blessing referred to in the last verse. God chose us, before the foundation of the world, in view of the merits of Christ, and for the sake of Christ; and having chosen us in eternity, has blessed us in time. The Greek word καταβολή (kataboles) signifies the laying of a foundation, literally, throwing down. As if, says St. Chrysostom, God had thrown down the universe from an infinite height, not locally, but on account of the immeasurable distance which separates the nature of the Creator from that of the creature.

That we might be holy and blameless in his sight. This is the object of our election, to be holy and blameless, not only in the sight of men, who may be deceived, but in that of God, who sees all things. In charity, because this is the crown and perfection of sanctification, and the means of attaining it. The Apostle does not assert that sanctification is the final end of our election, but it is the final end as regards this life. Or it may be considered as identical with the final beatification of soul and body in the presence of God, for which it is, in any point of view, essential. But St. Chrysostom, Theodoret, and the Syriac version, take the words in charity as belonging to the next verse: who has predestinated us in charity, or love.

In order to understand these opening words of the Apostle, it may be useful to enumerate some of the shocking tenets of the heretics against whom this Epistle is directed, and which were more fully brought to light at a later period when they had been separated from the communion of the Church. These errors are fully detailed in the writings of Irenaeus and St. Clement.

It will be sufficient to say here that the followers of Simon Magus maintained, 1. That the Creator of the world was not the Supreme Being, but an evil or imperfect principle or agent; 2. That he was the enemy of Christ, and brought him to the cross; 3. That the heirs of salvation have a divine or angelic nature, derived from spheres beyond the knowledge of the Creator; 4. That their salvation is, therefore, the result, not of election but of creation; 5. That it depends on destiny, not on the will of the Creator; 6. That sanctity, or obedience to the laws of the Creator of the world, is a degrading servitude, and the contrary is the characteristic of the sons of light; 7. That the rest of the race of mankind are not objects of charity, but of scorn and hate, like their Creator, and incapable of salvation; 8. That knowledge, not love, is the perfection of humanity and the inheritance of the Saints. These errors are combatted throughout the present Epistle; and in the two verses now under consideration St. Paul asserts, 1. That our Creator is blessed; 2. That he has blessed us, that is, all baptized Christians, in Christ; 3. That he has chosen us before creation; 4. That he has chosen us to salvation; 5. That he has chosen us for Christ’s sake, from the foreknowledge that we should believe in Christ; 6. That he has chosen us to sanctification; 7. That sanctification is obtained and made perfect by charity; 8. That in charity he has predestinated us to life eternal.

To this may be added that the heretics appear to have considered the world to have existed from eternity, or at least the material from which it was framed, on which account St. Paul says that God laid, or cast down, the foundations of the world. And that angels, not Christ, are our true mediators with God; for which reason the Apostle avers that God has blessed us in heavenly places in Christ. It is possible that some of these wild opinions may be faintly reflected in the heresies or philosophies of modern times, but for the most part they are obsolete and forgotten, and the chief interest of the Epistle to the Ephesians consists in the sublime and beautiful exposition of the Christian philosophy with which St. Paul has crushed and refuted them, in this magnificent treatise, and which he derived directly from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God.

Eph 1:5 Who predestined us to the adoption of sons, through Jesus Christ, into him, according to the purpose of his will:

Who predestined us. The Apostle borrows this word, from the vocabulary of his opponents, who attributed. everything in human life to destiny, or the influence of an inexorable fate determined by mysterious powers presiding over the birth of every individual, and whose dictates could not be escaped. But he uses the term in a sense of his own, very different from theirs, declaring that God has, from the beginning of the world, appointed or predestined believers in Christ, to the adoption of sons. The same blessing he has described before, and now expands in further detail; to be chosen to sanctity is the same thing as to be predestined to sonship. For the saints are the sons of God. Through, by means of and for the sake of Jesus Christ, to him. The Greek text, as we have it now, reads εἰς αὐτός (eis auton), to himself; the translator of the Vulgate appears to have read eis auto, to him, that is, to Christ. According to the purpose of his will, or the good pleasure of his will, his own voluntary and spontaneous mercy and kindness, the sole origin and source of this infinite honour and benefit to man. It is clear that St. Paul understands that this adoption to be sons of God had already been conferred upon the Ephesian Christians in the laver of regeneration, to which God had chosen or predestined them from eternity. This was the immediate object of their predestination and election, to which these tended; and that he does not refer to any immediate election and predestination to glory, appears from these considerations. 1. The inscription, the Epistle being addressed to the saints and faithful, not to such as were chosen to glory. 2. The words of the text: predestined to sonship, which is the privilege of all believers. 3. The general tenor of the Epistle addressed to them. No one would venture to assert that none of the Ephesian Christians were damned; that the object of St. Paul in writing it was to assure them of salvation unconditionally, or that he meant to make their election to glory patent and public to all the world. That their attainment of eternal glory was the end of their election, there is no doubt; but it does not follow that the; mode of arriving at grace and glory are the same. This is, however, another and more general question; what is asserted here is that the Apostle is not treating of election or predestination to final glory, but election and predestination to the adoption of sons, which is the privilege of all baptized believers in Christ. They are chosen to sanctity. But it is evident, from the language of this Epistle, that the Ephesian Christians were not all saints. This election is not, therefore, absolute, but conditional. Absolute on the part of God, who gives the graces necessary for sanctity, but conditional, as assuming our own free cooperation with that grace.

Eph 1:6. To the praise of the glory of his grace, whereby he made us gracious in his beloved Son.

To the praise of the glory of his grace. The Syriac: that the praise of his grace may be celebrated. The final cause and object of our election and salvation is, that for God’s infinite love and mercy, praise and glory may be rendered to him by men and angels.

In which grace, or by which grace, he has made us gracious, endowed us with Christian graces, made us acceptable and beloved to himself, as his own sons. Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and place a ring on his hand, Lk 15:22. St. Chrysostom says: By this grace he not only freed us from our sins, but made us pleasing, and objects of love and affection to himself. As if he took up one who was foul and disfigured with pestilence, disease, and leprosy, enfeebled by age, ruined in fortune, and restoring him at once to youth, health, strength, and beauty, beyond all compare, and in the flower and fulness of his age, and the vigour of life, clothed him with purple,, placed a jeweled diadem upon his head, surrounded him with state and splendour. Thus has God recreated and adorned the soul of man, and made it brilliant and beautiful, lovely, amiable, and desirable in his sight.

In his beloved Son. The word Son is omitted in the Greek. In the Beloved. The Syriac: through his Beloved. Christ is essentially and by excellence the Beloved of the Father. The felicity of Deity consists in the eternal affection that reigns between the Father and the Son. The Son beholds the fulness of the Father’s glory ; the Father sees his own infinite perfection perfectly reflected in the Son, his image and likeness. And through our union with Christ we also are beloved, rendered amiable, gracious, acceptable, to God the Father, in the Beloved. The false doctrine of the heretics, that the sons of light have by creation, and of themselves, a different nature from other men, the development of which must bring them to ultimate glory, is contradicted by this statement of the Apostle, that we are gracious and acceptable in the sight of God only for the sake of Christ, and through union with liim.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Fr. de Piconio, Notes on Ephesians | 1 Comment »

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 22

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 4, 2020


1 Unto the end, for the morning protection, a psalm for David.
2 O God my God, look upon me: why hast thou forsaken me? Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.

David speaks here in the person of Christ hanging on the cross, in the height of his suffering, as appears from Mt. 27, in which we read that the Redeemer, just before he expired, exclaimed: “O God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The words, “Look upon me,” are not in the Hebrew; they were added by the Septuagint, for explanation sake. When Christ complains of having been forsaken by God, we are not to understand that he was forsaken by the Second Person, or that there was a dissolution of the hypostatic union, or that he lost the favor and friendship of the Father; but he signifies to us that God permitted his human nature to undergo those dreadful torments, and to suffer an ignominious death, from which he could, if he chose, most easily deliver him. Nor did such complaints proceed either from impatience or ignorance, as if Christ were ignorant of the cause of his suffering, or was not most willing to bear such abandonment in his suffering; such complaints were only a declaration of his most bitter sufferings. And whereas, through the whole course of his passion, with such patience did our Lord suffer, as not to let a single groan or sigh escape from him, so now, lest the bystanders may readily believe that he was rendered impassible by some superior power; therefore, when his last moments were nigh, he protests that he is true man, truly passible; forsaken by his Father in his sufferings, the bitterness and acuteness of which he then intimately felt. “O God, my God;” looking upon himself as a mere servant, he addresses the Father as his God, because, at that very moment, he was worshipping him as the true God, offering to him the most perfect sacrifice that ever had been offered, the sacrifice of his body. “Look upon me;” he asks him to behold how he suffers for his honor, to acknowledge, therefore, the obedience of his Son, and to accept the sacrifice so offered for the human race. “Why hast thou forsaken me?” As if he were surprised! Is it possible you could allow your beloved and only begotten Son to be overwhelmed in such an abyss of pain and sorrow? Similar expressions are met in Jn. 3, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son;” and, Rom. 8, “He did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.” “Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.” Many, afraid of imputing sin to Christ, give a very forced explanation of these words. Some read them by way of interrogation, without any authority whatever. Others explain thus, “My sins,” having none, “are far from my salvation;” that is, are no obstacle to it. Without entering into other interpretations, mere gratuitous ones, inconsistent with the punctuation, the meaning simply is: with justice I said I was forsaken in my sufferings, because my exemption from them would be incompatible with my satisfying for the sins of the human race, which I have taken upon me, and which I mean to wipe away. And that Christ could take the sins of the human race upon himself, as if they were his own, is plainly shown in the Scripture, 1 Peter 2, “Who his own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree:” Isaias 53, “And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all:” and, 2 Cor. 5, “Him who knew no sin he hath made sin for us;” that is, a victim for sin. As a victim for sin, then, must be immolated, in order to cleanse from the sin, so Christ, having undertaken to become the victim for the sins of the world, with much propriety says, “Far from my salvation are the words of my sins;” that is, I cannot avoid death, since the sins of the whole world are upon me to satisfy for them. “The words of my sins” is a Hebraism, meaning the sins themselves. “Are far from my salvation,” are inconsistent with my salvation, and I must, therefore, needs suffer.

3 O my God, I shall cry by day, and thou wilt not hear: and by night, and it shall not be reputed as folly in me.

He assigns another proof of his being forsaken by God, and without any hope of temporal salvation. Though I may cry out day and night to be delivered from this death of the body, you will not hear me. He alludes to his two prayers, one at night in the garden, the other by day on the cross. “And it shall not be reputed as folly in me.” Though I may cry, and though I know you will not hear me, so far as my escaping temporal punishment or suffering is concerned; still, it will “not be folly in me,” because my principal object, the redemption of the human race, will be effected, and I will not be kept in death, but will rise to life everlasting.

4 But thou dwellest in the holy place, the praise of Israel.

He proves that it was not folly in him to cry out at night, even though he was not heard by day, and that for four reasons. First, because God is holy and merciful. Secondly, because he is wont kindly to hear those that call upon him. Thirdly, because he is in the greatest straits. Fourthly, because, from his nativity, he has confided in God, and in him alone. The present verse contains the first reason. You, O Lord, will certainly hear me, for you “dwell in the holy place;” you are all sanctity and piety; malice or cruelty cannot come near you, and, therefore, you are “the praise” of thy people “Israel;” both because the people of Israel praise thee, and they are praised on your account. For the greatest praise thy people can have is their having a God so holy in every respect.

5 In thee have our fathers hoped: they have hoped, and thou hast delivered them.
6 They cried to thee, and they were saved: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.

Reason the second, from the instances of his kindness, numbers of which are to be found in Judges. As often as the children of Israel appealed to him, so often did he send them one of the judges to deliver them, such as Gedeon, Samson, Samuel etc.

7 But I am a worm, and no man: the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people.
8 All they that saw me have laughed me to scorn: they have spoken with the lips, and wagged the head.
9 He hoped in the Lord, let him deliver him: let him save him, seeing he delighteth in him.

The third reason, derived from the straits in which Christ is placed. “But I am a worm, and no man:” I am just now in that position that I am not only “made less than the Angels,” but even made less than man. “Despised and the most abject of men,” Isaias 53, nay, even beneath them, when even Barabbas and the robbers were preferred to me, and thus, I am now become so wretched, more “a worm than a man;” “the reproach of men;” at whom men blush, as they would at some opprobrious character; as did Peter, when he swore a solemn oath, “he knew not the man;” and “the outcast of the people;” one so rejected by the very scum of the people, that they called out, “Not this man but Barabbas.” “All they that saw me have laughed me to scorn:” When they saw me in that state they all mocked me, all manner of persons, high and low, priests and laics, Jews and gentiles; which was fulfilled when, as St. Luke 23, writes, “And the people stood beholding, and the rulers with them derided. And the soldiers also mocked him.” “They have spoken with the lips, and wagged the head.” This, too, was accomplished, as St. Matthew writes, chap. 27, “They blasphemed him, wagging their heads, and saying, Vah, thou who destroyest the temple of God.” “He hoped in the Lord, let him deliver him: let him save him, seeing he delighteth in him.” St. Matthew testifies in the same place that the Jews made use of the very words, saying, “He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will.” Wonderful prophecy, predicting not only the facts, but the very words that would be used on the occasion.

10 For thou art he that hast drawn me out of the womb: my hope from the breasts of my mother.
11 I was cast upon thee from the womb. From my mother’s womb thou art my God,

The fourth reason, drawn from the eternal innocence of Christ. The word “For” does not imply a consequence; it is very often used in the Scriptures as a mere copulative; sometimes it is quite redundant. “You art he that hast drawn me out of the womb.” I am thine from my birth; specially so, because I have not been born like others; but, through thy singular favor, have been both conceived and born, my mother’s virginity remaining intact. “My hope from the breasts of my mother.” Not content with having “drawn me out of the womb,” it is you who principally nourished me; for, though apparently on the breast of any mother, I know milk from heaven was supplied by you; and, therefore, from her very breasts, I learned to hope and confide in thee. “I was cast upon thee from the womb;” The moment I left my mother’s womb, I fell into thy bosom, where I was cared with such singular love and affection. “From my mother’s womb thou art my God.” As well as you, from the moment of my birth, so providentially protected me, so I, from the earliest dawn of my life, began to serve and to love you as my God.

12 Depart not from me. For tribulation is very near: for there is none to help me.

“Depart not from me,” according to some, is a part of the preceding verse, a matter of no great moment; it means, since “I was cast upon thee from the womb,” since “thou art my God,” I may with justice ask you to “depart not from me,” especially when my most grievous and my last “tribulation is very near;” that is, my death. “For tribulation is very near.” This verse may, perhaps, apply to his agony in the garden, when he was so overwhelmed with fear at the idea of his approaching passion; but, I am more inclined to think it should be understood of his actual passion at hand, both because he uses the perfect tense, when he says, “They have dug my hands and feet.” “They parted my garments amongst them;” and because he, before that, quoted the language of the Jews, boasting of their having nailed him to the cross; and, finally, because the very first verse of this Psalm was quoted by our Savior, when hanging on his cross. According, then, to his expression in the 2nd verse, “it shall not be reputed as folly in me.” I will not cry to thee to deliver me from death, but not to detain me therein.

13 Many calves have surrounded me: fat bulls have besieged me.

An account of the cruelty of his enemies, whom he compares to bulls, lions, and dogs. He alludes to the High Priests and Pharisees, who insult him like bulls, goring him, as it were, with their horns, saying “Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God;” or, like lions with their mouths open, hungering for him; thirsting for his blood, and bellowing, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him;” or like dogs gnawing and biting him when they belied him, saying, “We have found this man perverting our nation;” and again, “If he were not a malefactor we would not have delivered him up to thee:” which calumnies and detractions were the cause of our Lord’s immediate crucifixion; and, therefore, he says presently, “They have dug my hands and feet.” To come now to particulars. “Many calves have surrounded me.” We are not to understand young weak calves, but grown, with horns, almost bulls; for the following, “fat bulls have besieged me,” is only a repetition. The High Priests and Pharisees are called “strong” and “fat,” because they were powerful and rich. Some will have it that by the “calves” he meant the populace; by the “bulls,” the Pharisees; not at all improbable; but I prefer the first explanation.

14 have opened their mouths against me, as a lion ravening and roaring.

The High Priests and Pharisees panting for his death.

15 I am poured out like water; and all my bones are scattered. My heart is become like wax melting in the midst of my bowels.
16 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue hath cleaved to my jaws: and thou hast brought me down into the dust of death.

He tells in these verses how he dealt with the cruelty of his enemies. He offered no opposition to their violence, but always exhibited the humility, patience, and mildness, spoken of in Isaias, chap. 1, “I have not turned away my face from them that rebuke me and spit upon me;” and by 1 St. Peter, 2, “Who when he was reviled, did not revile; when he suffered he threatened not, but delivered himself to him that judged him unjustly.” He, therefore, says, “I am poured out like water;” I made no resistance, allowed myself to be turned, driven in all directions, as one would turn a stream of water. “And all my bones are scattered;” I have lost all my strength, not in reality, but I do not wish to exercise it. I let my enemies use theirs, according to St. Luke 22, “This is your hour and the power of darkness.” I have, therefore, shown myself weak and feeble in my resistance, as if I were flesh entirely; “And all my bones are scattered;” and thus incapable of resistance. “My heart is become like wax melting in the midst of my bowels;” I have patiently borne, and meekly borne, all those injuries before man, but I have been also interiorly “humble of heart;” which heart has not been swollen with anger, nor hardened with rage, in a spirit of vengeance, but has been on the contrary, like “melted wax,” in the spirit of affection and love to them, in the spirit of mercy for their blindness, by virtue of which I prayed of you, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” “In the midst of my bowels;” a usual phrase in the Scripture, to express our internal feelings; thus, John 7, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water:” and, Cant. 5, “My bowels were moved at his touch:” “My strength is dried up like a potsherd.” My whole strength has dwindled away, dried up like a brickbat, when I allowed myself to be tied and beaten as if I were incapable of resisting them. “And my tongue adhered to my jaws:” I did not choose to say an offensive word to my enemies, or to complain of their wrongs. “And thou hast brought me down into the jaws of death.” In consequence of their persecutions, and my non resistance, you have, my God, without whose permission nothing can happen, brought me to my death and burial.

17 For many dogs have encompassed me: the council of the malignant hath besieged me. They have dug my hands and feet.
18 They have numbered all my bones. And they have looked and stared upon me.
19 They parted my garments amongst them; and upon my vesture they cast lots.

All which was fulfilled to the letter, as may be read in St. John, chap. 19.

20 But thou, O Lord, remove not thy help to a distance from me; look towards my defence.

He returns to the prayer with which he commenced the Psalm, and to which he recurred again in verses 10 and 11, and now resumes it here. Having gone through the details of his passion, he now prays to God for a speedy resurrection, as it is it that will deliver him perfectly from the persecution of his enemies. “But thou, O Lord, remove not thy help to a distance from me.” My enemies have arrived at the height of their malice, have put out all their strength against me; it is, therefore, your part to look to me now, to defer your help no longer, but kindly to defend me against their machinations.

21 Deliver, O God, my soul from the sword: my only one from the hand of the dog.
22 Save me from the lion’s mouth; and my lowness from the horns of the unicorns.

He tells the sort of assistance he requires. “Deliver my soul from the sword.” Deliver me from the instrument of death, making use of the word sword for any instrument, a thing common in the Scriptures, 2 Sam 12, “The sword shall not depart from thy house;” Ezechiel 33, “And see the sword coming upon the land;” Rom. 8, “Who, then, shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or persecution? or the sword?” In like manner, the word soul is used here for life, a thing not uncommon in the Scriptures. “My only one from the hand of the dog;” by “the dog,” he means those dogs he had already spoken of; but he makes use here of the singular number by a figure, to show that the malice of them all appeared to be now concentrated in one, and, therefore, so much the more violent and malignant. “My only one;” he means his own life, which he loved in a singular manner, as being that of the incarnate Word. “Save me from the lion’s mouth;” that lion of which ver. 13. says, “They have opened their mouths against me, as a lion ravening and roaring;” “and my lowness from the horns of the unicorn.” He said before, “Fat bulls have besieged me.” Unicorns are now substituted for bulls, being much more fierce and wild, to show that the cruelty and ferocity of his enemies, so far from being softened by his many sufferings, was only excited and increased. Now, in all these petitions the Lord does not ask to have his temporal life spared; but, as we have repeatedly explained before, he asks that his life may be repaired quickly, and so repaired that he shall be no longer exposed or subject to the bite of the dog, the claws of the lion, or the horn of the bull or the unicorn.

23 I will declare thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the church will I praise thee.

He now begins to tell the fruit of his resurrection, the conversion of the world to God. “I will declare thy name to my brethren. When I shall have risen, I will send my apostles through the entire world, and through them, “I will declare my name;” that is, I will impart the knowledge of thy name and of thy Godhead to all men through them; all being my brothers, by reason of the flesh I assumed; and thus, “in the midst of the church will I praise thee;” no longer in a corner of Judea, but in the midst of the immense church, composed of Jews and gentiles, through the mouths of my ministers will I praise thee. St. Paul, writing to the Hebrews, quotes this passage, chap. 2, “For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: I will declare thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the church I will praise thee.”

24 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him: all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him.
25 Let all the seed of Israel fear him: because he hath not slighted nor despised the supplication of the poor man. Neither hath he turned away his face form me: and when I cried to him he heard me.

Having said that he would “praise God in the midst of the church,” which was to be effected by getting his faithful to do so, he now exhorts the faithful to praise God, “Ye that fear the Lord;” ye who know and worship him; for fearing God, in the Scriptures, is synonymous with worshipping him; thus, Jonas, when questioned about his people, says, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the God who made the heavens and the earth;” and Daniel says, “Let all fear the God of Daniel;” and it is said of Judith, “that she feared God exceedingly.” The meaning, then, is, you who know and worship the true God, praise him; and, lest we should imagine this exhortation was addressed to a few, the Jews, for instance, he adds, “All ye seed of Jacob, glorify him. Let all the seed of Israel fear him;” that means, glorify, praise, and fear God, all ye children of Israel, and not only ye who are children in the flesh, but ye who are children according to the promise, namely, all the gentiles converted to Christianity; “Because he hath not slighted nor despised the supplication of the poor man.” He assigns a reason for wishing God to be praised by all, namely, because he heard the prayer he put up to him for his resurrection and glory, for his victory over the devil, and for the redemption of the human race. He calls himself “a poor man,” as, in truth, he was, when, in his agony, hanging on the cross, he hung naked, deserted, and suffering from hunger and thirst. “Neither hath he turned away his face from me, and when I cried to him he heard me.” A repetition of the preceding sentences.

26 With thee is my praise in a great church: I will pay my vows in the sight of them that fear him.

Having encouraged his faithful to praise God, he now predicts the certainty of it. The praise I will chant to thee through my faithful will not be from a corner, nor from a handful of the Jews, but from the church of all nations. “I will pay my vows in the sight of them that fear him.” Vows here signify sacrifices and oblations, as Isaias 9 has it, “They shall worship him in victims and offerings, and they shall make vows to the Lord, and perform them;” for when Christ saw how agreeable was the holocaust of his death to the Almighty, he promises now that, through his ministers, he will, in the best manner he can, most frequently renew the same holocaust, which he says, in the words, “I will pay my vows in the sight of them that fear him;” through my ministers, the priests of the New Testament, I will most constantly immolate that most agreeable of all sacrifices to God; “in the sight of them that fear him;” of those that acknowledge, worship him, for the sacrifice may not be performed before infidels.

27 The poor shall eat and shall be filled: and they shall praise the Lord that seek him: their hearts shall live for ever and ever.

Of this sacrifice “the poor shall eat,” when they acknowledge their spiritual neediness and poverty; “and shall be filled, because they will taste of the good, exceeding all good; “and they shall praise the Lord,” thanking him for such an immense favor: “that seek him;” those that hunger for and eagerly seek him; “their hearts shall live forever.” Such will be the fruit of this reflection, that the hearts nourished by such excellent and noble food will lead a spiritual life—a life of grace here, and of glory forever; for so the Truth speaketh, in John 6, “Whosoever eateth of this bread shall live forever.” For, as perishable food supports the body for a time, so the imperishable food confers life everlasting.

28 All the ends of the earth shall remember, and shall be converted to the Lord: And all the kindreds of the Gentiles shall adore in his sight.

He shows how it will happen that he shall have to praise God “in a great church,” because all nations will be converted to God through the merits of the sacrifice on the cross. “They shall remember” their first origin, how they were formed in their first parent, a thing they had quite forgotten, through original sin; and, therefore, they said to the wood and the stones, “Thou art my father,” Jerem. 3 “They shall remember” their first creation, “and all the ends of the earth shall be converted to the Lord;” that is, all the nations on the face of the globe, even to its remotest ends; that is to say, some from every nation. “And all the kindred of the gentiles shall adore in his sight.” An explanation of the preceding verse; because, “adoring” the Lord, and being converted to the Lord, imply the same thing; namely, the abandonment of idolatry by the whole human race all over the world.

29 For the kingdom is the Lord’s; and he shall have dominion over the nations.

They will deservedly be converted to and adore the Lord, because he, not the infernal spirits, being the true and natural king of all, will justly “have dominion over the nations.”

30 All the fat ones of the earth have eaten and have adored: all they that go down to the earth shall fall before him.

Having stated that “The poor shall eat and shall be filled, and shall praise the Lord;” and that “All the kindred of the gentiles shall adore in his sight,” for fear any one may suppose it was only the poor and the hungry would be called and converted, he now introduces the rich and the powerful. “All the fat ones have eaten, and have adored.” The very “fat ones” of this world, who abound in its blessings, such as princes, emperors, kings, they, too, shall eat of the Lord’s table, and will adore and praise the common Lord, whose sway is over all nations. In the style of the prophets, the perfect tense is used here for the future. Finally the words “that go down to the earth,” mean all mortals who to earth must return. “Shall fall before him;” shall bend their knees, and adore; and thus the conversion of the gentiles, the fruit of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, will be truly general.

31 And to him my soul shall live: and my seed shall serve him.

He concludes by saying, that he and his posterity would thence forward live for God’s glory alone, and for his faithful service; the soul is put here for the entire man, which is often done in the Scripture.

32 There shall be declared to the Lord a generation to come: and the heavens shall shew forth his justice to a people that shall be born, which the Lord hath made.

An explanation of the expression, “My seed shall serve him,” for “the generation to come;” meaning the people, under the new dispensation, will get good news concerning the Lord and his justice, the justice of Faith. “Then shall be declared to the Lord a generation to come;” that means, the generation to come shall get the news; it shall be announced to them, for it is a Greek phrase, like the expression, “The poor have the gospel preached to them;” whereas, literally translated, it would mean, the poor preached the gospel: the meaning, then, is, not that the Lord will be declared to the generation to come, but the generation to come will be declared, as enlisted to the Lord; this is plain from the following, where he says, “The heavens shall show forth his justice to a people that shall be born;” now, “that shall be born,” and “the generation to come,” are one and the same. The Lord, then, will be declared to the coming generation, for the heavens, that holy people, will do it. The justice of faith is called the justice of God, which makes men truly just, and which God gratuitously gives to those who believe in Christ. For the gospel strongly inculcates that we are all sinners, that we cannot be justified of ourselves, but that through faith in Christ we are to expect justice from God alone.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, St Robert Bellarmine | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

On Matthew 1-7: The Authority of Jesus and His Word is Established

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 2, 2020

Matthew 1-7 consists of two parts: A narrative (Mt 1:2-4:25) and a sermon (Mt 5:1-7:29). The narrative is foundational to the sermon and can help explain its contents and, likewise, the sermon can help explain the significance of the narrative. Here I examine Matthew’s typological presentation of Jesus in the narrative and suggest ways in which such presentations prepare for the sermon.

DEFINITIONS: Type: a sign, figure or foreshadowing of a greater reality. Antitype: means “in place of the type,’ designating the reality indicated by the sign, figure or foreshadowing.

DAVID – JESUS TYPOLOGY: That Matthew presents Jesus as “Son of David” and, therefore, a kingly figure, is obvious and need not detain us (cf. Mt 1:1-2:7; and Mt 4:17 with Ps 2:7). The emphasis on David helps establish Jesus as an authoritative person who can lay down the law of the Kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount. The sermon establishes the (righteous) character necessary for belonging to the Kingdom and the necessity of righteous deeds that flow from that character. In his teaching on righteousness our Lord shows himself to be the prophesied righteous (or just) Messiah, Son of David (Jer 23:5-8; 33:15-16; Isa 9:7; 32:1; 42:1-4 with Mt 12:18-21).

SOLOMON – JESUS TYPOLOGY: The typology is rooted in the title Son of David. Solomon asked God for wisdom and this pleased God who not only made him wise, but promised him riches and glory besides (1 Kings 3:5-14). Solomon reached the apex of his wisdom and glory with the visit of the Queen of Sheba who praised the God of Israel for establishing the wise Solomon to carry out righteousness and justice (1 Kings 10:1-9). Yet immediately following this we get details of his reign that are ominous. A comparison between the law of the king in Deut 17:14-20 with details of Solomon’s reign in 1 Kings 10:14-11:13 shows Solomon’s failures. Note that in this latter passage God is said to be the source of his wisdom, but not the source of his wealth, weapons, or wives. It seems that Solomon had ceased to be dependent on God for wealth and protection, hence his idolatry. This would result in the division of the kingdom and, eventually, the virtual disappearance of the ten northern tribes from history because of the Assyrian conquest.

As one like but greater than Solomon (Mt 12:42) Jesus is a sage king. Two of the most common features of wisdom teaching are beatitudes [the sermon begins with these] and two ways [or two roads] teachings [the sermon ends with this]. Other wisdom elements in the sermon are contrasts between good and bad deeds and the differing judgements they bring, almsgiving, curbing anger, avoiding rash judgements, etc.

Solomon was supposed to carry out justice and righteousness, major concerns in the sermon.

Solomon’s name is related to shalom [peace] but his sins inaugurated 200 years of internecine warfare between the brother tribes of Israel. Jesus, the true man of shalom, started his ministry in the tribal territories where the series of disasters begun by Solomon’s sins came to a head, signaling a reversal (Mt 4:12-17). He declares that peacemakers are blessed, and shall be called sons of God (Mt 5:9). He teaches the things that make for peace: avoiding anger and seeking reconciliation with adversaries (Mt 5:21-26); avoiding retaliation and loving enemies (Mt 5:38-48); avoiding false judgements (Mt 7:1-5) and observing the Golden Rule (Mt 7:12).

While Solomon ceased to be dependent on God for wealth Jesus counseled dependence on God (Mt 6:24-34) I see the reference to Solomon in this passage (29) as a subtle rebuke.

MOSES – JESUS TYPOLOGY: That Jesus is presented as the prophet like Moses is also well known. Compare the following:

Both faced state sponsored death of infants~ Ex 1:15-22 with Mt 2:16-18.

Both infants were saved by a family member~ Ex 2:1-9 with Mt 2:13-14.

Both lives were preserved by flight; the adult Moses fled out of Egypt, infant Jesus into Egypt~ Ex 2:11-22 with Mt 2:13-14.

Under God’s orders both returned to the land they fled from~ Ex 4:19 with Mt 2:19-20.

Both fasted forty days and nights in the desert~ Ex 24:18; 34:28 with Mt 4:2.

There are also a number of parallels between Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel and the figure of Moses in Jewish traditions. For example, Moses’ father, learning of his wife’s pregnancy was fearful and had a dream concerning his son and is told that “he will deliver the Hebrew nation” (Josephus, Antiquities, 2.210-216. see Mt 1:18-21).  Pharaoh persecuted the infants because he learned from his magicians that a deliverer of the Hebrews would be born (Targum Pseudo-Johnathan on Ex 1:15 see Mt 2:1-7). In a different version of this he learned it from royal scribes (Antiquities, 2.216, see Mt 2:4-6).

After presenting Jesus as like Moses he subtly present him as greater, especially in the so-called antithesis (Mt 5:21-48). Jesus taught with authority, unlike the scribes (Mt 7:29) who derived their authority from Moses (Mt 23:2). See Heb 3:1-6.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Matthew 28:18-20: The Missionary Mandate as Theological Key to the Gospel

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 18, 2020

Matthew’s Gospel is made up of six major blocks of material. The first five blocks (Mt 1-25) contain two parts: 1. major narrative [N] and 2. major discourse/sermon [D/S]. These block can be outlined as follows:


Block 1~ Mt 1:1-7:29. [N] Mt 1-4. [D/S] Mt 5-7.


Block 2~ Mt 8:1-10:42. [N] Mt 8-9. [D/S] Mt 10.


Block 3~ Mt 11:1-13:53. [N] Mt 11-12. [D/S] Mt 13:1-53.


Block 4~ Mt 13:54-18:35. [N]Mt 13:54-17:27. [D/S] Mt 18.


Block 5~ Mt 19:1-25:46. [N] Mt 19:1-22:46. [D/S] 23-25.


The purpose of this arrangement is quite simple: each narrative prepares for the discourse that follows it, and each discourse helps explain its preceding narrative. The sixth and final block of material has a markedly different structure and serves a different purpose. Like the other blocks it consists of a major narrative [Passion and Resurrection, Mt 26-28], but in contrast to the other blocks it contains a seemingly minor discourse: “And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All authority is given to me in heaven and in earth. For this reason go, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (Mt 28:18-20).


These, the last words spoken by Jesus are, however, anything but minor; they serves to recapitulate nine themes that permeate the book and are especially prominent in the first five discourses (but see Theme 5).


Theme 1:  Authority of Jesus: “All authority is given me in heaven and earth.”


D/S 1. Mt 5:17-48; 7:28-29.

D/S 2. Mt 10:27, 31-33, 34-40.

D/S 3: Mt 13:41.

D/S 4. Mt 18:3, 10, 18.


Theme 2: Authority of Apostles: “For this reason, go…”


D/S 1. Mt 5:13-19.

D/S 2. Mt 10:1, 5, 16, 40.

D/S 3. Mt 13:17, 52 (implicit).

D/S 4. Mt 18:18. But implicit throughout.

D/S 5. Mt 23:8-12, 34.


Theme 3: Apostolic Mission: “Make disciples”


D/S 1. Mt 5:19-20; 6:9-10.

D/S 2. Mt 10:5-6.

D/S 3. Mt 13:52.

D/S 4. Mt 18:12-14.

D/S 5. Mt 24:45-51; 25:14-30.


Theme 4: The Mission is Universal: “All nations.”


D/S 1. Mt 5:13-14.

D/S 2. Mt 10:17-18, 27.

D/S 3. Mt 13:32, 38.

D/S 4. Mt 18:18.

D/S 5. Mt 24:14, 30; 25:32.


Theme 5: Mission Consists of Baptizing: “Baptizing them.”


Not explicit in any discourse, but see Mt 3:8-12. Implicit in Mt 20:17-23.


Theme 6: Mission Consists of Teaching: “Teaching them.”


D/S 1. Mt 5:13-16 (implicit). Mt 5:19.

D/S 2. Mt 10: 7, 14 (implicit).

D/S 3. Mt 13:52.

D/S 4. None.

D/S 5. Mt 23:10.


Theme 7: What is Taught: “Observe all things I have commanded you.”


D/S 1. Mt 5:17-48; 6:1-34; 7:15-27. See esp., Mt 6:10.

D/S 2. Mt 10:8, 42.

D/S 3. Mt 13:8, 23. Implicit in Mt 13:17, 52.

D/S 4. Mt 18:33.

D/S 5. Mt 23:3, 23; 25:31-46.


Theme 8: Jesus’ Presence: “I am with you all days.”


D/S 2. Mt 10:22, 40.

D/S 4. Mt 18:20.


Theme 9: Jesus is Present Until the Judgement: “Even to the consummation of the ages.”


D/S 1. Mt 6:13, 7:21-27.

D/S 2. Mt 10:22.

D/S 3. Mt 13:30, 40-43, 49-50.

D/S 4. Mt 18:35.

D/S 5. Mt 24:14, 31, 44, 50-51; 25:13, 14-30, 31-46.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 21

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2020


Ps 21:1 IN thy strength, O Lord, the king shall joy; and in thy salvation he shall rejoice exceedingly.

Having obtained a victory, “The King,” Christ, “Shall joy in thy strength,” for the strength and power he got from you to triumph so successfully over his enemies; “And in thy salvation,” the salvation you gave him, “shall rejoice,” nay, even “rejoice exceedingly.” One part of the verse thus explains the other.

Ps 21:2 Thou hast given him his heart’s desire: and hast not withholden from him the will of his lips.

Words corresponding to “May he give thee according to thy own heart,” in the last Psalm, a Hebrew idiom, by which granting a petition means, giving the thing asked for, as we read in 1 Sam 1:18. The priest Heli says to Anna, “The God of Israel grant thee thy petition which thou hast asked of him;” thus, “Thou hast given him his heart’s desire” means, thou hast given him what he desired; “And hast not withheld from him the will of his lips;” you have not refused him what he, by the expression of his lips, showed he wished for and desired. In one word that Christ got all he wished for in his heart and expressed with his lips.

Ps 21:3 For thou hast prevented him with blessings of sweetness: thou hast set on his head a crown of precious stones.

How justly Christ must have rejoiced to find he not only got what he asked, but that God even anticipated his wishes, bestowed the greatest favors on him, without his even asking them. “Thou hast prevented him (anticipated) with blessings of sweetness;” and the meaning is, that Christ, without his asking them, was liberally endowed with God’s gifts, such as being conceived by the Holy Ghost, the being united in person with the Word, the infusion of all knowledge and virtue, and the beatific vision, all of which he got at the very instant of his conception, and was therefore “prevented (anticipated) with the blessings of sweetness.”

“Thou hast set on his head a crown of precious stones,” would seem to refer to his royalty and his priesthood, which, too, he had from his conception, and hence the name Christ; for a crown of gold marks the king as well as the priest.

Ps 21:4 He asked life of thee: and thou hast given him length of days for ever and ever.

He got the above named gifts by anticipation, without asking them; but corporeal glory and immortality and other gifts, he afterwards asked and got. “He asked life,” which he did on the eve of his passion. “He offered up prayers and supplications to him that was able to save him from death,” Heb. 5, “but God gave him length of days, forever and ever,” meaning life everlasting, that, “rising again from the dead, he may die no more, death shall have no more dominion over him,” Rom. 6. Jansenius would have David alluded to here; Euthymius and Theodoret, before him, say Ezechias was meant; but this verse disproves both, for neither David nor Ezechias got that length of days here mentioned.

Ps 21:5 His glory is great in thy salvation: glory and great beauty shalt thou lay upon him.

God not only gave him life “forever and ever,” but he also “exalted him, and gave him a name which is above every name,” Phil. 2; for that was truly “the great glory he had in thy salvation,” the salvation through which God saved him; and hence, “thou wilt lay upon him glory and great beauty,” in lieu of the ignominious crown of thorns his enemies put upon him, rendering him, as Isaias, chap. 3, has it, “without beauty or comeliness.”

Ps 21:6 For thou shalt give him to be a blessing for ever and ever: thou shalt make him joyful in gladness with thy countenance.

Having been “exalted to the right hand of the Father,” with “a name above every name,” a universal benediction of those “that are in heaven, on earth, and in hell,” will follow. “Thou shalt give him to be a blessing;” you will set him up as a common, a universal subject for thanksgiving, that all may bless him. “Thou shalt make him joyful in gladness with thy countenance;” signifying the joy consequent on the enjoyment of all those blessings; “With thy countenance” means, in thy presence, or before thee.

Ps 21:7 For the king hopeth in the Lord: and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.

The aforesaid blessings will be fixed and firm for eternity, “For the king hopeth in the Lord;” in the infinite power of God, and not in the strength of man; “And through the mercy of the Most High,” through the infinite goodness of him who is above all, and to whom all are subject; “He,” therefore, “shall not be moved;” he will not waver, but remain secure for eternity.

Ps 21:8 Let thy hand be found by all thy enemies: let thy right hand find out all them that hate thee.

Proving that neither Christ nor his kingdom will be disturbed, because all his enemies will be destroyed. “Let thy hand be found by all thy enemies, to punish them, which he repeats in the second part of the verse. He would seem now to address Christ rather than the Fathers because Christ was the special object of the hatred of the Jews, and of his other persecutors; and it is of him Psalm 110 speaks, “Sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool.”

Ps 21:9 Thou shalt make them as an oven of fire, in the time of thy anger: the Lord shall trouble them in his wrath, and fire shall devour them.

The punishment of his enemies described, “Thou shalt make them,” namely, his enemies, “as an oven of fire,” to burn on all sides, like “a lighted oven,” “in the time of thy anger;” in the day of thy wrath, viz., the day of judgment. For Christ our Lord “Shall trouble them in his wrath,” and then, at his command, everlasting fire will devour them, and make them “like an oven of fire.”

Ps 21:10 Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth: and their seed from among the children of men.

For fear any one may object that the posterity of Christ’s enemies would, one time or another, stand up for their fathers, and offer violence to Christ, the prophet now adds, that not only will his enemies be destroyed, but the same destruction will extend to their children, and to all their posterity.

Ps 21:11 For they have intended evils against thee: they have devised counsels which they have not been able to establish.

Most justly shall they be punished, because they unjustly sought to injure you. With great propriety and accuracy David says, “They have intended evils against thee.” they could only intend them, for Christ, “in whom there was no sin,” could not be directly subject to punishment; but these wicked men “intended,” and, as it were, distorted such evils against him, such as contumelies, wounds, stripes, death itself, seeking to turn the innocent Christ from his path. “They have devised counsels which they have not been able to establish.” They had the evil intention of destroying Christ, and of obstructing his kingdom; a thing they could not accomplish, because God converted all these persecutions to the good of Christ himself, and of his faithful servants.

Ps 21:12 For thou shalt make them turn their back: in thy remnants thou shalt prepare their face.

The great misfortune of the wicked is here described; scourging alone is to be their lot; and, to add to their misfortune, they will have a view of God’s elect, in the highest glory and happiness. “Thou shalt make them turn their back.” Nothing but their back shall be seen; they shall be all back, to be scourged all over. “In thy remnants thou shalt prepare their face;” the word “prepare” signifies “to direct,” in the Hebrew; and then the meaning is, you will direct their countenance, that is, of the wicked, to look “at thy remnants;” that is, the elect, whom you have left to yourself, and of whom it is written, Rom. 9, “The remnants will be saved.” This is a very difficult passage. Theodoret and Euthymius explain it thus: “Thou shalt make them turn their back:” rout them, make then fly, turn their back. “In thy remnants:” that is, in those that remain after them, their children. “Thou shalt prepare their face:” thou shalt satisfy thy anger. Let the reader choose between the two interpretations.

Ps 21:13 Be thou exalted, O Lord, in thy own strength: we will sing and praise thy power. 

The Psalm concludes with a pious effusion of praise to Christ our King, with a prediction of what is to happen after the final destruction of all the wicked. “Be thou exalted, O Lord, in thy own strength.” You that once appeared so humble, so infirm even, as to suffer crucifixion, now, in your strength and power, after subduing your enemies, and shoving them into Gehenna, “be exalted” to the very highest heavens; meanwhile, “we,” thy elect, “will sing,” with our voice, and with all manner of musical instruments will celebrate thy power and glory, in the hope of one day coming to thy kingdom, there to praise thee forever and ever.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture, St Robert Bellarmine | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Catechism of the Council of Trent on Almsgiving

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 31, 2019


What is to he thought concerning Alms, an Obligation implied by this Commandment

In this commandment is also implied pity towards the poor and the necessitous, and an effort on our part for the relief of their difficulties and distresses from our means, and by our offices. On this subject—which is to be treated very frequently and copiously—pastors, to enable themselves, to fulfil this duty, will borrow matter from the works of those very holy men, St. Cyprian,z John Chrysostom,a Gregory Nazianzen,b and other eminent writers on alms-deeds. For the faithful are to be inflamed with a desire and with alacrity to succour those who depend on the compassion of others for subsistence. They are also to be taught the great necessity of alms-deeds, that with our means and by our co-operation we may be liberal to the poor, and this by the very true argument that, on the day of the last judgment, God will abhor those who shall have omitted or neglected the offices of charity, and hurl against them the sentence of condemnation to everlasting flames; but will invite, in the language of praise, and introduce into their heavenly country, those who have acted kindly towards the poor. Their respective sentences have already been pronounced by the lips of Christ our Lord:c Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you; and: Depart from, me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.


By what Means the People are to be incited to Alms-Deeds

Pastors will also employ those texts of Scripture most calculated to persuade to this duty: Give and it shall be given unto you:d they will cite the promise of God, than which even imagination can picture no remuneration more abundant, none more magnificent: There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, &c., but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, and in the world to come eternal life;e and he will add these words of our Lord: Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations.f But they will explain the different heads of this necessary duty, to wit, that whoever are unable to give, may at least lend to the necessitous wherewithal to sustain life, according to the injunction of Christ our Lord: Lend, hoping for nothing again.g The happiness attendant on such an exercise of mercy, holy David attests: A good man showeth favour and lendeth.h


We must labour to bestow Alms and to avoid Idleness

But it is an act of Christian piety, should it not be in our power otherwise to deserve well of those who stand in need of the pity of others for sustenance, to seek by the labour of our hands to procure means of relieving the wants of the indigent, and also thus to avoid idleness. To this the apostle exhorts all by his own example: For yourselves, saith he, writing to the Thessalonians, know how ye ought to follow us;i and again, to the same: And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;j and to the Ephesians: Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.k


We must live sparingly in order to aid the Wants of Others

We should also practise frugality, and draw sparingly on the means of others, that we may not be a burden or a trouble to them. This exercise of temperance shines conspicuous in all the apostles, but pre-eminently so in St. Paul, who, writing to the Thessalonians, says: Ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail, for labouring night and day because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the Gospel of God;l and in another place: But wrought with labour and travail, night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you.m

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

St Ambrose on Hospitality

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 31, 2019

The following is excerpted from St Ambrose’s On the Duties of the Clergy, Book II, chapter XXI.

103. Hospitality also serves to recommend many.11 For it is a kind of open display of kindly feelings: so that the stranger may not want hospitality, but be courteously received, and that the door may be open to him when he comes. It is most seemly in the eyes of the whole world that the stranger should be received with honour; that the charm of hospitality should not fail at our table; that we should meet a guest with ready and free service, and look out for his arrival.

104. This especially was Abraham’s praise,12 for he watched at the door of his tent, that no stranger by any chance might pass by. He carefully kept a lookout, so as to meet the stranger, and anticipate him, and ask him not to pass by, saying: “My lord, if I have found favour in thy sight, pass not by thy servant.”13 Therefore as a reward for his hospitality, he received the gift of posterity.

105. Lot also, his nephew,14 who was near to him not only in relationship but also in virtue, on account of his readiness to show hospitality, turned aside the punishment of Sodom from himself and his family.

106. A man ought therefore to be hospitable, kind, upright, not desirous of what belongs to another, willing to give up some of his own rights if assailed, rather than to take away another’s. He ought to avoid disputes, to hate quarrels. He ought to restore unity and the grace of quietness. When a good man gives up any of his own rights, it is not only a sign of liberality, but is also accompanied by great advantages. To start with, it is no small gain to be free from the cost of a lawsuit. Then it also brings in good results, by an increase of friendship, from which many advantages rise. These become afterwards most useful to the man that can despise a little something at the time.

107. In all the duties of hospitality kindly feeling must be shown to all, but greater respect must be given to the upright.1 For “Whosoever receiveth a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man’s reward,”2 as the Lord has said. Such is the favour in which hospitality stands with God, that not even the draught of cold water shall fail of getting a reward.3 Thou seest that Abraham, in looking for guests, received God Himself to entertain.4 Thou seest that Lot received the angels.5 And how dost thou know that when thou receivest men, thou dost not receive Christ? Christ may be in the stranger that comes, for Christ is there in the person of the poor, as He Himself says: “I was in prison and thou camest to Me, I was naked and thou didst clothe Me.”6.

108. It is sweet, then, to seek not for money but for grace. It is true7 that this evil has long ago entered into human hearts, so that money stands in the place of honour, and the minds of men are filled with admiration for wealth. Thus love of money sinks in and as it were dries up every kindly duty; so that men consider everything a loss which is spent beyond the usual amount. But even here the holy Scriptures have been on the watch against love of money, that it might prove no cause of hindrance, saying: “Better is hospitality, even though it consisteth only of herbs.”8 And again: “Better is bread in pleasantness with peace.”9 For the Scriptures teach us not to be wasteful, but liberal.

Posted in Catholic, fathers of the church | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

John Cassian on Fasting

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 31, 2019

The following is excerpted from John Cassian’s 21st Conference, chapters 13-14.

What kind of good fasting is

WHEREFORE we must now inquire what we ought to hold about the state of fasting, whether we meant that it was good in the same sort of way as justice, prudence, fortitude and temperance, which cannot possibly be made anything else, or whether it is something indifferent which sometimes is useful when done, and may be sometimes omitted without condemnation; and which sometimes it is wrong to do, and sometimes laudable to omit. For if we hold fasting to be included in that list of virtues, so that abstinence from food is placed among those things which are good in themselves, then certainly the partaking of food will be bad and wrong. For whatever is the opposite of that which is in its own nature good, must certainly be held to be in its own nature bad. But this the authority of Holy Scripture does not allow to us to lay down. For if we fast with such thoughts and intentions, so as to think that we fall into sin by taking food, we shall not only gain no advantage by our abstinence but shall actually contract grievous guilt and fall into the sin of impiety, as the Apostle says: “Abstaining from meats which God has created to be received with thanksgiving by the faithful and those who know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it is partaken of with thanksgiving.” For “if a man thinks that a thing is common, to him it is common.”2 And therefore we never read that anyone is condemned simply for taking food, but only when something was joined with it or followed afterwards, for which he deserved condemnation.

How fasting is not good in its own nature

AND so that it is a thing indifferent is very clearly shown from this also; viz., because as it brings justification when observed, so it does not bring condemnation when it is broken in upon; unless perhaps the transgression of a command rather than the partaking of food brings punishment. But in the case of a thing that is good in its own nature, no time should be without it, in such a way as that a man may do without it, for if it ceases, the man who is careless about it is sure to fall into mischief. Nor again is any time given for what is bad in its own nature, because what is hurtful cannot help hurting, if it is indulged in, nor can it ever be made of a praiseworthy character. And further it is clear that these things, for which we see conditions and times appointed, and which sanctify, when observed without corrupting us when they are neglected, are things indifferent, as, e.g., marriage, agriculture, riches, retirement into the desert, vigils, reading and meditation on Holy Scripture and fasting itself, from which our discussion took its rise. All of which things the Divine precepts and the authority of Holy Scripture decreed should not be so incessantly aimed at, or so constantly observed, as for it to be wrong for them to be for a time intermitted. For anything that is absolutely commanded brings death if it be not fulfilled: but whatever things we are urged to rather than commanded, when done are useful, when left undone bring no punishment. And therefore in the case of all or some of these things our predecessors commanded us either to do them with consideration, or to observe them carefully with regard to the reason, place, manner, and time, because if any of them are done suitably, it is fit and convenient, but if incongruously, then it becomes foolish and hurtful. And if at the coming of a brother, in whose person he ought to refresh Christ with courtesy and to embrace him with a most kindly welcome, a man should choose to observe a strict fast, would he not rather be guilty of incivility than gain the praise or reward of devoutness? or if when the failure or weakness of the flesh requires the strength to be restored by the partaking of food, a man will not consent to relax the rigour of his abstinence, is he not to be regarded as a cruel murderer of his own body rather than as one who is careful for his salvation? So too when a festival season permits a suitable indulgence in food and a necessarily liberal repast, if a man will resolutely cling to the strict observance of a fast he must be considered as not religious so much as boorish and unreasonable. But to those men also will these things be found bad, who are on the lookout for the praises of men by their fasts, and by a foolish show of paleness gain credit for sanctity, of whom the word of the Gospel tells us that they have received their reward in this life, and whose fast the Lord execrates by the prophet. In whose person he first objected to himself and said: “Wherefore have we fasted and Thou hast not regarded: wherefore have we humbled our souls, and Thou hast not known it?” and then at once he answered and explained the reasons why they did not deserve to be heard: “Behold,” he says, “in the days of your fast your own will is found and you exact of all your debtors. Behold you fast for debates and strife, and strike with the fist wickedly. Do not fast as ye have done unto this day, to make your cry to be heard on high. Is this such a fast as I have chosen, for a man to afflict his soul for a day? Is it this, to wind his head about like a circle, and to spread sackcloth and ashes? Will ye call this a fast and a day acceptable to the Lord?” Then he proceeds to teach how the abstinence of one who fasts may become acceptable, and clearly lays down that fasting cannot be good of itself alone, but only when it has the following reasons which are added: “Is not this,” he says, “the fast that I have chosen? Loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden. Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thine house: and when thou shalt see one naked cover him, and despise not thine own flesh. Then shalt thy light break forth as the morning and thy health shall speedily arise, and thy righteousness shall go before thy face and the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here am I.”1 You see then that fasting is certainly not considered by the Lord as a thing that is good in its own nature, because it becomes good and well-pleasing to God not by itself but by other works, and again from the surrounding circumstances it may be regarded as not merely vain but actually hateful, as the Lord says: “When they fast I will not hear their prayers.”2

Posted in fathers of the church | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

St John Chrysostom on Fasting

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 31, 2019

The following is excerpted from St John Chrysostom’s 3rd Homily on the Statues.

7. Let us not then despair of our safety, but let us pray; let us make invocation; let us supplicate; let us go on embassy to the King that is above with many tears! We have this fast too as an ally, and as an assistant in this good intercession. Therefore, as when the winter is over and the summer is appearing, the sailor draws his vessel to the deep; and the soldier burnishes his arms, and makes ready his steed for the battle; and the husbandman sharpens his sickle; and the traveller boldly undertakes a long journey, and the wrestler strips and bares himself for the contest. So too, when the fast makes its appearance, like a kind of spiritual summer, let us as soldiers burnish our weapons; and as husbandmen let us sharpen our sickle; and as sailors let us order our thoughts against the waves of extravagant desires; and as travellers let us set out on the journey towards heaven; and as wrestlers let us strip for the contest. For the believer is at once a husbandman, and a sailor, and a soldier, a wrestler, and a traveller. Hence St. Paul saith, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers. Put on therefore the whole armour of God.”4 Hast thou observed the wrestler? Hast thou observed the soldier? If thou art a wrestler, it is necessary for thee to engage in the conflict naked. If a soldier, it behoves thee to stand in the battle line armed at all points. How then are both these things possible, to be naked, and yet not naked; to be clothed, and yet not clothed! How? I will tell thee. Divest thyself of worldly business, and thou hast become a wrestler. Put on the spiritual armour, and thou hast become a soldier. Strip thyself of worldly cares, for the season is one of wrestling. Clothe thyself with the spiritual armour, for we have a heavy warfare to wage with demons. Therefore also it is needful we should be naked, so as to offer nothing that the devil may take hold of, while he is wrestling with us; and to be fully armed at all points, so as on no side to receive a deadly blow. Cultivate thy soul. Cut away the thorns. Sow the word of godliness. Propagate and nurse with much care the fair plants of divine wisdom, and thou hast become a husbandman. And Paul will say to thee, “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.”5 He too himself practised this art. Therefore writing to the Corinthians, he said, “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”6 Sharpen thy sickle, which thou hast blunted through gluttony—sharpen it by fasting. Lay hold of the pathway which leads towards heaven; rugged and narrow as it is, lay hold of it, and journey on. And how mayest thou be able to do these things? By subduing thy body, and bringing it into subjection. For when the way grows narrow, the corpulence that comes of gluttony is a great hindrance. Keep down the waves of inordinate desires. Repel the tempest of evil thoughts. Preserve the bark; display much skill, and thou hast become a pilot. But we shall have the fast for a groundwork and instructor in all these things.

8. I speak not, indeed, of such a fast as most persons keep, but of real fasting; not merely an abstinence from meats; but from sins too. For the nature of a fast is such, that it does not suffice to deliver those who practise it, unless it be done according to a suitable law.7 “For the wrestler,” it is said, “is not crowned unless he strive lawfully.”8 To the end then, that when we have gone through the labour of fasting, we forfeit not the crown of fasting, we should understand how, and after what manner, it is necessary to conduct this business; since that Pharisee also fasted,9 but afterwards went down empty, and destitute of the fruit of fasting. The Publican fasted not; and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted; in order that thou mayest learn that fasting is unprofitable, except all other duties follow with it. The Ninevites fasted, and won the favour of God.1 The Jews fasted too, and profited nothing, nay, they departed with blame.2 Since then the danger in fasting is so great to those who do not know how they ought to fast, we should learn the laws of this exercise, in order that we may not “run uncertainly,” nor “beat the air,” nor while we are fighting contend with a shadow. Fasting is a medicine; but a medicine, though it be never so profitable, becomes frequently useless owing to the unskilfulness of him who employs it. For it is necessary to know, moreover, the time when it should be applied, and the requisite quantity of it; and the temperament of body that admits it; and the nature of the country, and the season of the year; and the corresponding diet; as well as various other particulars; any of which, if one overlooks, he will mar all the rest that have been named. Now if, when the body needs healing, such exactness is required on our part, much more ought we, when our care is about the soul, and we seek to heal the distempers of the mind, to look, and to search into every particular with the utmost accuracy.

9. Let us see then how the Ninevites fasted, and how they were delivered from that wrath—“Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything,”3 saith (the prophet). What sayest thou? Tell me—must even the irrational things fast, and the horses and the mules be covered with sackcloth? “Even so,” he replies. For as when, at the decease of some rich man, the relatives clothe not only the men servants and maid servants, but the horses also with sackcloth, and give orders that they should follow the procession to the sepulchre, led by their grooms; thus signifying the greatness of the calamity, and inviting all to pity; thus also, indeed, when that city was about to be destroyed, even the irrational nature was enveloped in sackcloth, and subjected to the yoke of fasting. “It is not possible,” saith he, “that irrational creatures should learn the wrath of God by means of reason; let them be taught by means of fasting, that this stroke is of divine infliction. For if the city should be overturned, not only would it be one common sepulchre for us, the dwellers therein, but for these likewise. Inasmuch then as these would participate in the punishment, let them also do so in the fast. But there was yet another thing which they aimed at in this act, which the prophets also are wont to do. For these, when they see some dreadful chastisement proceeding from heaven, and those who are to be punished without anything to say for themselves;—laden with shame,—unworthy of the least pardon or excuse:—not knowing what to do, nor from whence they may procure an advocacy for the condemned, they have recourse to the things irrational; and describing their death in tragical fashion, they make intercession by them, putting forward as a plea their pitiable and mournful destruction. When therefore, aforetime, famine had seized upon the Jews, and a great drought oppressed their country, and all things were being consumed, one of the prophets spoke thus, “The young heifers leaped in their stalls; the herds of oxen wept, because there was no pasture; all the cattle of the field looked upward to Thee, because the streams of waters were dried up.”4 Another prophet bewailing the evils of drought again speaks to this effect: “The hinds calved in the fields and forsook it, because there was no grass.5 The wild asses did stand in the forests; they snuffed up the wind like a dragon; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass.” Moreover, ye have heard Joel saying to-day, “Let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet;—the infants that suck the breast.”6 For what reason, I ask, does he call so immature an age to supplication? Is it not plainly for the very same reason? For since all who have arrived at the age of manhood, have inflamed and provoked God’s wrath, let the age, saith he, which is devoid of transgressions supplicate Him who is provoked.

10. But, as I said before, we may see what it was that dissolved such inexorable wrath. Was it, forsooth, fasting only and sackcloth? We say not so; but the change of their whole life. Whence does this appear? From the very language of the prophet. For he who hath discoursed of the wrath of God, and of their fasting,7 himself too, when speaking of the reconciliation, and teaching us the cause of the reconciliation, speaks to this effect; “And God saw their works.”8 What kind of works? That they had fasted? That they had put on sackcloth? Nothing of the sort: but passing all these points in silence, he adds, “That they turned every one from their evil ways, and the Lord repented of the evil that He had said He would do unto them.” Seest thou, that fasting did not rescue from this danger, but it was the change of life, which rendered God propitious and kind to these barbarians?

11. I have said these things, not that we may disparage fasting, but that we may honour fasting; for the honour of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawing from sinful practices; since he who limits his fasting only to an abstinence from meats, is one who especially disparages it. Dost thou fast? Give me proof of it by thy works! Is it said by what kind of works? If thou seest a poor man, take pity on him! If thou seest in enemy, be reconciled to him! If thou seest a friend gaining honour, envy him not! If thou seest a handsome woman, pass her by! For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eye, and the ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies. Let the hands fast, by being pure from rapine and avarice. Let the feet fast, by ceasing from running to the unlawful spectacles. Let the eyes fast, being taught never1 to fix themselves rudely upon handsome countenances, or to busy themselves with strange beauties. For looking is the food of the eyes, but if this be such as is unlawful or forbidden, it mars the fast; and upsets the whole safety of the soul; but if it be lawful and safe, it adorns fasting. For it would be among things the most absurd to abstain from lawful food because of the fast, but with the eyes to touch even what is forbidden. Dost thou not eat flesh? Feed not upon lasciviousness by means of the eyes. Let the ear fast also. The fasting of the ear consists in refusing to receive evil speakings and calumnies. “Thou shalt not receive a false report,”2 it says.

12. Let the mouth too fast from disgraceful speeches and railing. For what doth it profit if we abstain from birds and fishes;3 and yet bite and devour our brethren? The evil speaker eateth the flesh of his brother, and biteth the body of his neighbour. Because of this Paul utters the fearful saying, “If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”4 Thou hast not fixed thy teeth in the flesh, but thou hast fixed the slander in the soul, and inflicted the wound of evil suspicion; thou hast harmed, in a thousand ways, thyself and him, and many others, for in slandering a neighbour thou hast made him who listens to the slander worse;5 for should he be a wicked man, he becomes more careless when he finds a partner in his wickedness; and should he be a just man, he is lifted to arrogance, and puffed up; being led on by the sin of others to imagine great things concerning himself. Besides,6 thou hast struck at the common welfare of the Church; for all those who hear not only accuse the supposed sinner, but the reproach is fastened on the Christian community; neither dost thou hear the unbelievers saying, “Such a person is a fornicator, or a libertine;” but instead of the individual who hath sinned, they accuse all Christians. In addition to this,7 thou hast caused the glory of God to be blasphemed; for as His Name is glorified when we have good report, so when we sin, it is blasphemed and insulted!

Posted in Catholic, fathers of the church, SERMONS, St John Chrysostom | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

%d bloggers like this: