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

Archive for May 22nd, 2016

Commentaries for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 22, 2016


Today’s Mass Readings.


My Notes on Hosea 2:16-17, 21-22. On 16-23.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Hosea 2:16-17, 21-22.

Word-Sunday Notes on Hosea 2:16-17, 21-22.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 102:1-4. 8. 10. 12-13.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 102.

Father McSwiney’s Introduction and Notes on Psalm 102.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 102.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 102.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 102.


R.D. Ryles’ Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6. On 1-9.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6.

Father Lapide’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6.

Word-Sunday Notes on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 2:18-22.

Word-Sunday Notes on Mark 2:18-22.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 2:18-22.



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Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 22, 2016


i. Paul asserts that he does not seek or need the praise of men, as the Judaising false apostles sought it: the fruit of his preaching is, he says, sufficient commendation.
ii. He states (ver. 6) the cause of this to be that the Apostles and other ministers of the New Testament and of the Spirit were adorned by more honour and glory than were Moses and the other ministers of the Old Testament and of the letter.
iii. He points out (ver. 13) that the Jews have still a veil over their heart in reading the Old Testament, and so do not see Christ in it; but that they will see Him when this veil shall be taken away by Christ at end of the world.

2 Cor 3:1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need (as some do) epistles of commendation to you, or from you?

Do we begin again to commend ourselves?  At the end of the Apostle had seemed to praise himself and seek the favour of the Corinthians, hence he meets here any suspicion of vain glory.

Or do we need (as some do) epistles of commendation to you, or from you? ie., written by you to commend me to others.

2 Cor 3:2 You are our epistle, written in our hearts, which is known and read by all men:

You are our epistle. You, 0 Corinthians, converted by my efforts, are to me like an epistle of commendation read and understood by all, which I can show as my credentials to whom I like. As the work recommends the workman, and the seal faithfully is represented by its image, so do you commend me as though you were a commendatory letter, sealed by yourselves. For all know what you were before your conversion—drunken, gluttonous, given up to impurity and other evil lusts. Corinth was then an emporium, as famous for its vices as its wares. But now all men see that you have been completely changed, through my preaching, into different men—temperate, chaste, meek, humble, devout, liberal. This your conversion, therefore, is my commendatory letter, i.e., the public testimony of my preaching before all people.

Written in our hearts. You have been converted by me, and indelibly written and engraven on my heart. This “epistle” was twice written by S. Paul. (1.) He wrote it actually when he instilled into the mind of the Corinthians the faith and Spirit of Christ. (2.) He wrote it and imprinted it on his own heart by his care and love of them. (3.) Christ again was inscribed on their hearts by Paul’s ministry, as if by a pen; and Christ, Himself, by Paul’s preaching, imprinted on them his faith, hope, charity, and other graces, not with ink, but by the inspiration of the Spirit of the living God, who filled their hearts with charity and all virtues.

2 Cor 3:3 Being manifested, that you are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, and written: not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God: not in tables of stone but in the fleshly tables of the heart.

In fleshy tables of the heart. Not in hard stone, as was the law of Moses, but in a heart tender, soft, and teachable. There is an allusion to Jer 32:33. The Apostle, we should notice, makes a distinction between σάρκινος (= sarkinos = “fleshly”), used here, and οαρκικός (= sarkikoi): the first denotes the natural condition of flesh—its softness, &c.; the other that which has the vices and corruptions of flesh. Cf. Rom 7:14 and 1 Cor 3:3. Other writers, however, do not observe this distinction. Nazianzen, e.g., applies the latter of these terms to the incarnation and manhood of Christ.

2 Cor 3:4 And such confidence we have, through Christ, towards God.

And such confidence we have. The Greek word used here, denotes that confident conviction which makes the mind strive to attain some difficult end that it longs for, as though it were certain of success. Such is the confidence which is inspired into the Saints by the Holy Spirit enabling them to work miracles or other heroic works of virtue. This confidence God is wont to demand as a fitting disposition, and to give beforehand, both in him who performs and in him who receives the benefit of the miracle or other Divine gift, in order that the soul may, by this gift, expand and exalt itself, and become capable of receiving Divine power.  S. Paul says in effect. “This confident persuasion that you are our epistle, written by the Spirit of the living God, we have before God through the grace of Christ; we have hope and sure confidence in God that, as He has begun, so will He finish this epistle by His Spirit.” In the second place this trust is the confidence S. Paul had before God, which enabled him to glory confidently in God of this epistle of his and of God, and of the dignity of his ministry, and of its fruit, when compared with the ministry of Moses and of other Old Testament ministers.

2 Cor 3:5 Not that we are sufficient to think any thing of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God.

Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves. To think anything that is good and is ordained to faith, grace, merit, and eternal salvation, so as to make a man an able minister of the New Testament. But if no one is able to think any such thing, he is still less able to do it. Cf. Council of Arausica (can. 7) and S. Augustine (de Prædest. Sanct. c. ii.).

1. From this passage S. Augustine lays down, in opposition to the semi-Pelagians, in which he is followed by the Schoolmen, that the will to believe and the beginning of faith and salvation, and every desire for it, come, not from free-will but from prevenient grace. Hence Beza wrongly charges the Schoolmen with teaching that the beginning of good is from ourselves, though weakly and insufficiently; for they all alike teach that the beginning of a good and holy life, of good thoughts and actions, and salvation in general is supernatural, and has its origin in the grace of God, not in nature or the goodness of our will.

2. Calvin is mistaken in inferring from this passage that there is no power in free-will which may be exerted in the works of grace, but that the whole strength and every attempt and act spring from grace. The Apostle says only that free-will is in itself insufficient, not that it has no power whatever. Just as an infirm man has a certain amount of strength, but not enough for walking, and has enough for walking if any one else help him, and give him a start and support, so too free-will is of itself insufficient for good works, but is sufficient if it be urged on, strengthened, and helped by prevenient grace.

It may be said that the sufficiency Paul speaks of here may be, as Theophylact and the Syriac render it, power, strength, or might. I answer that this is true; for the power and strength of free-will for a supernatural work, and of grace, which makes it supernatural, pleasing, to God, and worthy and meritorious of eternal life, are not from free-will, but from exciting and co-operating grace. When free-will has this, it is sufficiently able to believe freely, to love, and to work any supernatural work whatever. For free-will has for every work natural strength able to produce a free work; therefore these two causes concur here in the same work, one natural, viz., free-will, the other supernatural, viz., grace. Each, too, has its corresponding effect: the effect of grace is that it is a supernatural work, of free-will that it is free and the work of man. In the same way an infirm man is not only not strong enough, but wholly unable to walk, because it is a task beyond his strength; but he becomes able if he is given strength by a friend, or from some other source, and then he unites his own strength, however little it be, with that lent to him, and is able to walk. Still the strength that comes from without has to start him and begin his walking, and the whole force and energy with which he walks is to be found in the strength that is given him. That he tries to walk beyond his strength is not from himself but from without; but when it is once given, he puts forth his own strength and co-operates with it, and produces an effect commensurate to his efforts. In the same way free-will co-operates with exciting grace, and acts as a companion to it in every super- natural work in such way as its strength enables it.

We learn from this passage to recognise in every good work our own weakness, and to ascribe to Christ’s grace all the goodness and worth of what we do. S. Gregory (Morals, lib. xxii. c. 19), says: “Let no one think himself to have any virtue, even when he can do anything successfully; for if he be abandoned by the strength that cometh from above he will be suddenly overthrown helplessly on the very ground where he was boasting of his firm standing.”  S. Augustine (contra Julian, lib. ii. c. 8) commends the refutation of the Pelagians by S. Cyprian in the words: “They trust in their strength and exclaim that the perfection of their virtue is from themselves; but you, 0 Cyprian, reply that no one in his own strength is strong, but is safe only under the merciful indulgence of God.” The Psalmist, too, says the same thing (Ps 59:9): “My strength will I guard unto Thee,” meaning that he would lay it up in safety under his ward, hoping to over-come his enemies in God’s strength and not in his own, because God is the Fount of all virtue and strength. Cf. Ezek 29:3:5, where Pharaoh is forewarned of his fate for ascribing his power and success to himself.

Again, this passage teaches us to pray to God constantly that He would direct our thoughts, and inspire us with heavenly thoughts and desires, for such are the fount and beginning of all good works. This is beautifully expressed in the Collect for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity. S.Bernard (Serm. 32 in Cantic.) says learnedly and piously: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything good as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God. When, therefore, we find evil thoughts in our heart, they are our own; if we find a good thought, it is the word of God: Our heart utters the former and hears the latter. ‘I will hear,’ it says, ‘what the Lord God will say in me, for He shall speak peace to His people.’ So, then, he speaks in us peace, righteousness, godliness; we do not think such things of ourselves, but we hear them within ourselves; but murders, adulteties, thefts, blasphemies, and such things proceed from the heart: we do not hear them, we say them,” or at all events they are suggested to us by the devil.

2 Cor 3:6 Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter but in the spirit. For the letter killeth: but the spirit quickeneth.

Not in the letter but in the spirit. I am a minister of the New Testament, but not in such a way that I bring tables of the law and of the covenant and its words, as did Moses in the Old Testament, but so that God may by my words inspire into you heavenly thoughts and desires. Cf. Augustine. (de Spirit. et Lit. c. iii.).

For the letter killeth. (1.) Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine (de Doctr. Christ. lib. iii. c. 4) explain this to be that the letter of the law convicts and condemns them to death who do not obey this letter, i.e., the precepts of the law relating to righteousness and charity. For this letter of the law enacts that whosoever breaketh the law is to die the death. (2.) S. Augustine gives another explanation. If you abuse the literal meaning, and neglect the sense of Scripture, and fall into error, as Jews and heretics do, then the letter killeth. (3.) When metaphorical sayings are taken literally (S. Augustine, ibid. c. v., vi.). (4.) When types of the new law contained in the old are understood to be still binding in their literal meaning (ibid. Cf. also Origen, contra Celsum, lib. iii.; Didymus, de Spirit. Sanct. lib. iii.). The Fathers in general frequently say that the letter, i.e., the literal meaning of the law killeth, but the spirit, i.e., the spiritual and allegorical meaning, giveth life. This is because it is not now lawful to Christians to observe the ceremonies and ritual precepts of the old law literally under penalty of death; but they are bound to do what those ceremonies allegorically signified if they wish to attain the life of grace and glory. (5.) S. Augustine again in the same place says that the letter, both of the old and new law, killeth if separated from the spirit; but that this passage refers to the old law alone, because Moses, when he gave the law, gave only the letter, but Christ gave the spirit and the letter, and from this he lays down that the law cannot be fulfilled by the strength of nature alone, but requires the grace of Christ. (6.) S. Augustine once more and Anselm say that the letter killeth by giving occasion to sin; for the law is the occasion by which concupiscence is kindled and sin produced which kills the soul. This sense and the first are the most literal.

But the Spirit quickeneth. (1.) The Spirit gives to the soul the supernatural life of grace and charity. (2.) He gives motives and strength for good works and for fulfilling the law. (3.) He guides us towards that eternal life promised by the law to them that keep it. Of this life and Spirit the Apostles were sent by Christ as ministers.


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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 22, 2016

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief overview of all of 2 Cor 3 followed by his comments on verses 1-6. Text in purple inidcates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.


Among the charges preferred by the false teachers against the Apostle, was that of indulging in self-praise. He defends himself against this charge, for which he might have given some grounds in the seventeenth verse of the preceding chapter, as well as in chapter 9 of his first Epistle, by retorting upon his adversaries, and showing that he did not, like them, require any recommendation with the Corinthians. For, having been converted by his ministry, they were his letters patent, or, more properly speaking, the Epistle of Christ himself who, by the ministry of the Apostle, engraved on their hearts, with the grace of the Holy Ghost, the characters of true sanctity (2 Cor 3:1–3). The glory of all this he refers to God, through whose grace alone, man can elicit even as much as a single good or supernatural thought, conducive to salvation (2 Cor 3:4-5). And to God he acknowledges his obligation for his call to the exalted function of the Apostolic ministry. He contrasts this ministry with that of Moses, and he shows the superior excellence of the former (2 Cor 3:6). He shows that the glory attached to his own ministry, so incomparably surpasses that attached to the ministry of Moses, that the glory of the latter might, comparatively speaking, be termed no glory at all (2 Cor 3:7-10). His ministry, and the new covenant, excelled the Mosaic on another ground also—viz., on the ground of perpetuity (2 Cor 3:11). His practical conclusion from the hope of the glory attached to his ministry is, to preach the gospel openly, and with much boldness of speech (2 Cor 3:12), and not act, as did Moses, who placed a veil upon his face, when speaking to the people (13). He explains the mystical signification of this veil, which signified the spiritual blindness of the Jews, who see not Christ represented in the beaming effulgence of the face of Moses (2 Cor 3:14-15). It is only by believing in Christ, that this veil will be taken away (2 Cor 3:16). He says that the Lord is the spirit to whom he has been referring, as distinguishing the Covenant of grace from that of Moses; he it is that removes the veil of darkness and obstinacy (2 Cor 3:17). The Apostle concludes the second number of the antithesis, instituted at verse 13, and shows how clearly the revelation of God has been made by the Holy Spirit to the ministers of the gospel beyond that of Moses, so that they can, like so many suns, enlighten others (2 Cor 3:18).

2 Cor 3:1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need (as some do) epistles of commendation to you, or from you?

1. Is it to be inferred from the foregoing (2:17), that we are again anxious to praise ourselves and be commended to your favour? Or, do we require commendatory letters to you or from you (as is the case with some others)?

“Again,” has reference to chapter 9 of the First Epistle, where he is forced, in his own defence, as well as here, to refer to his labours and privations. “Epistles of commendation,” were propably letters of introduction, or, the tesseræ hospitalitatis common among the Greeks, Romans, and Jews, and in frequent use in the primitive Church. (“As some do,”) viz., the false teachers, who made this a charge against the Apostle, of which they themselves alone were guilty.

2 Cor 3:2 You are our epistle, written in our hearts, which is known and read by all men:

2. We require no such recommendation; you yourselves, converted to the faith through our labours and ministry, are a sufficient recommendation of us, and a proof of our true apostleship, written on our hearts (owing to our anxiety for you). You are our letters patent, known to all men, since the several nations of the earth, with which you hold relations of commerce, know us, to be your Apostle.

“Written on our hearts.” Owing to our anxiety and affection for you. “Which is known and read,” &c., may also mean, it is known and read by all that you are engraven on our hearts, in consequence of our constant mention and remembrance of you in every place.

2 Cor 3:3 Being manifested, that you are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, and written: not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God: not in tables of stone but in the fleshly tables of the heart.

3. It should rather have been said, that, by your faith and good works, it is made manifest regarding you, that you are the Epistle of Christ himself, on whom, as on a chart, are inscribed his sacred laws and precepts written by our ministry; not with ink, but with the grace of the Holy Ghost, which has impressed, on you the characters of true sanctity; not on tables of stone, but on the softer and more pliant tablets of the heart.

He corrects his assertion, to the effect that they were his Epistle; they were rather “the Epistle of Christ,” whose law is written on their hearts. “The Epistle of Christ” may also mean the Epistle written by Christ, and of which Christ is the principal author. The former, which is adopted in the Paraphrase, is the interpretation of the Greeks. The latter interpretation, wherein it is insinuated that the Corinthians, or, rather the fruits of their conversion to the faith, are the work of Christ, better suits the following words:—“Ministered by us,” i.e., written by our ministry as a subordinate agent. “Not with ink,” with which human instruments are ordinarily written, “but with the spirit,” &c., i.e., the grace of the Holy Ghost. “Not in tables of stone,” like the Law of Moses, to which these words are evidently allusive, “but in the fleshy tablets,” &c. The word “fleshy,” is opposed to hard, stony, impenetrable; but not to spiritual. The Apostle is most probably alluding to the difference between both testaments referred to, chapter 31, of Jeremiah, and quoted in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb 8:8). How many are there, alas! whose hearts, harder than adamant, always resist the inspirations of the Holy Ghost. How fervently should we pray, not to be delivered over to an impenitent heart—to a spirit of obduracy and insensibility in the ways of God!

2 Cor 3:4 And such confidence we have, through Christ, towards God.

4. And this confidence and matter for glorying in you as our converts before God, we have not from any merits of our own, but from the merits of Christ.

The Apostle boasts before God for having been made the instrument in the conversion of the Corinthians, not through any merits of his own, but through the merits of Christ. He claims no merit for himself, notwithstanding his immense labours and boundless success in the propagation of the gospel and conversion of the world. “Dens, qui universum mundum B. Pauli Apostoli prædicatione docuisti,” is the language of the Church (January 25). What a lesson is here conveyed to such as wish that their most trifling efforts in the cause of religion should be bruited abroad, and that a twofold glory should redound to themselves!—“receperunt mercedem suam.”

2 Cor 3:5 Not that we are sufficient to think any thing of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God. 

5. We glory in our ministry and its successful issue with you, not that we are sufficient of ourselves, from our own natural strength to elicit even a good thought of the supernatural order—a thought conducive to salvation—much less perform a good work of the same kind, since all our sufficiency, in that respect, must come from the grace of God.

This passage has been adduced by St. Augustine and the Council of Orange to refute the errors of the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians, and to show the necessity of divine grace for performing a good action or for eliciting a good thought conducive to salvation. It is of supernatural actions the Apostle here speaks; for he is treating of works appertaining to the Apostolic ministry of preaching the gospel. “Of ourselves as of ourselves;” i.e., of our own natural strength, and independent of any other assistance.

2 Cor 3:6 Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter but in the spirit. For the letter killeth: but the spirit quickeneth.

6. Who, among the other gifts bestowed upon us, has also rendered us fit ministers of the new testament, not of the written law given by Moses, but of the spiritual covenant of grace, which grace is given to be abundantly dealt out to others. For, the law of Moses, written on tables of stone, is of itself the occasion of death in its infraction, and by stimulating concupiscence; but the spiritual covenant vivifies, by the charity and grace which it communicates to our hearts.

“Who also,” i.e., who, among the other blessings bestowed on us, “hath made us fit ministers of the new testament.” This has reference to the sixteenth verse of the preceding chapter, “and for these things who is so fit?” “Not in the letter” (the Greek is, οὐ γράμματος ἀλλὰ πνευματος, = ou grammatos alla pneumatos = not of the letter, but of the spirit), i.e., not ministers to announce the mere letter of the Law of Moses, viewed in itself, and without grace; but to announce a spiritual covenant, which administers abundant grace. “For the letter killeth.” The Apostle here views the letter without the spirit, as he views science without charity—(1 Cor 7), and in this sense “the letter kills,” because it gives no grace of itself to fulfil the precepts which it imposes. Again, “it kills,” by becoming the occasional cause of spiritual death, inasmuch as it stimulates, by the very prohibition, to its transgression, and excites concupiscence, as the Apostle expressly declares in his Epistle to the Romans.

In this passage the Apostle undertakes to show the superiority of the Christian law and ministry over the Mosaic. This is directed against the false teachers, who wished to unite the Mosaic with the Christian law.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 22, 2016

This post opens with Fr. Callan’s brief summary of 2 Cor 3:1-6 followed by his commentary.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 3:1-6.

Often the Apostle had felt it necessary to speak to the Corinthians about himself and his authority. His enemies had made use of this to accuse him of boasting and arrogance, and thus tried to lead away the neophytes from one who, as they said, had to praise himself to get a following. Having, therefore, in the closing verses of the preceding chapter again spoken of himself and his ministry he is reminded of the sneer of his adversaries, and he consequently now, before going on with his general apology, takes occasion to tell his readers that he is in no need of self-recommendation, since the faithful themselves are his testimonial. If he speaks with assurance and authority it is because he has been divinely constituted a minister of the New Testament.

2 Cor 3:1. Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need (as some do) epistles of commendation to you, or from you?

Do we begin again, etc. This implies that the Apostle had already been accused of self-recommendation. Perhaps the reference is to such passages as 1 Cor. 2:16; 3:10; 4:9-16; 9:1-5, 15-22, etc., which might lead to such accusations. If chapters 10-13 is a part, or contains portions of the lost letter between 1 and 2 Corinthians the “again” here is easily understood; for in those chapters the Apostle felt constrained to indulge considerably in what his enemies called boasting.

Or do we need, etc., i.e., are St. Paul and his companions who founded the Corinthian Church in need of recommendation to, or by the faithful there? Does a father need recommendation to his own children? If a preacher who has not founded, or taken part in founding, a Christian community comes to them, letters of recommendation are indeed necessary (Acts 15:25-27; 18:27; 1 Cor. 16:10-11); but it is not so with the founder and spiritual father.

From you implies that the Judaizers got the Corinthians to give them commendatory letters.

2 Cor 3:2. You are our epistle, written in our hearts, which is known and read by all men:

The Corinthians themselves were to St. Paul and Timothy something far better than an ordinary letter of recommendation; they were the Apostle’s letter, written not with ink on perishable papyrus, but in lasting characters of love and affection on immortal souls.

Read by all men, i.e., all men could see the ties of affection that existed between St. Paul and the Corinthian faithful. This statement is rendered more literally true by the civil and social prominence of Corinth.

2 Cor 3:3. Being manifested, that you are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, and written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart.

Being manifested, etc., i.e., it is widely known that the Corinthian
faithful were converted by Christ, through the grace of the
Holy Ghost and the ministry of St. Paul and his companions.
Christ, therefore, is the principal author of the Apostle’s letter
of commendation, because it was His word and the grace of His Holy Spirit that brought the Corinthians to the faith.

With the spirit, etc. Christ, by the Spirit of the living and life- giving God, wrote on the hearts of the Corinthians through the preaching of the Apostles, a knowledge of the truths of faith which has been so fruitful in virtue and sanctity of life that it is entirely evident that the human agents of that divine message were true and genuine Apostles.

Tables of stone is a reference to the Ten Commandments which
were written in the desert, on two stone tables (Exod. 31:18; 32:15-16).

In the fleshy tables of the heart. Better, “On tables (that are) hearts of flesh.” The Vulgate cordis should be cordibus, according
to the best Greek.

2 Cor 3:4. And such confidence we have, through Christ, towards God.

And such confidence, etc. The Apostle means to say that his confidence that the faith of the Corinthians is a sure testimony of the validity of his Apostleship is felt even when he puts himself in the presence of God. His assurance did not come from his own merits or personal ability, but through the grace of Christ.

2 Cor 3:5. Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God.

The preceding verse is now better explained. St. Paul means to say that solely of our natural strength and ability it is not possible that we should be able even to think, much less to wish or to do, anything supernaturally good and meritorious of life eternal. For the beginning, as well as the completion, of each and every salutary act we need the grace of God; and such is the doctrine of the Church against the Pelagians, who denied all need of grace, and against the Semi-pelagians, who denied the necessity of grace for the beginning of a salutary act (cf. St. Aug., De dono persev. 13; De praedest. sanct. 2; cont. duos epis. Pel. 8, etc.; St. Thomas, h. 1. ; Counc. of Orange, can. 7).

The words of ourselves, as of ourselves are to be connected with not that we are sufficient. Our whole sufficiency in supernatural things is from God, as from its primary and principal cause.

We are sufficient (Vulg., sufficientes simus) should be “we were
sufficient,” sufficientes essetnus, according to the best MSS.

2 Cor 3:6. Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit. For the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth.

The Apostle and his companions have not only received all their supernatural sufficiency from God, but by Him also have they been enriched with the gifts necessary to be fit, i.e., competent, ministers of the New Covenant of grace established between God and man by Jesus Christ (Jer. 31:31 ff.; Heb. 8:8; 9:15).

Not in the letter, etc. “He has been urging the superiority of his own claims on their affection and obedience to those of his Judaizing opponents. He now points to the boundless superiority of the dispensation of which he is the minister to that which the Judaizers represent” (Plummer). The latter represent the Old Covenant, which was founded on the written law, indicating, indeed, the good to be done and the evil to be avoided, but without giving the necessary grace to fulfil its mandates. The New Covenant, on the contrary, which is the law of the Spirit, gives all the help required to observe its precepts. See on Rom. 4:15; 5:20; 7:7; 8:2-3.

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Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 147

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 22, 2016


Title. LXX.: Alleluia, of Haggai and Zechariah. Vulgate Alleluia.


Arg. Thomas. First portion:1 That Christ knows the number and names of the stars, which He Himself first set up. The Voice of the Apostles and the Church to the new people; or the Voice of the Holy Ghost by the Prophet to the Gentiles, that they should strive to praise God, not vain idols. The Voice of Christ to the Church.

Second portion: That Christ may fill His Church with peace, and abundance of spiritual wheat. The Voice of Christ to the Church, that it may praise the Lord the Father; or the Voice of the Holy Ghost by the Prophets to the same, that she may not cease to praise Christ. The Voice of the Holy Ghost to the Church concerning Christ.

Ven. Bede. First portion: The subsequent text explains the words of its title, for Alleluia means Praise ye the Lord. Further, the fifth edition of this Psalm set it down thus, Praise ye Jah, that is, the Lord, because Jah is understood to be one of the ten Names of God. And these Jerome writing to Marcellus thus enumerates. The first name is El, that is, Mighty; then Elohim and Elohé, both of which mean God: whence they are often found doubled, as is the case with “My God, My God,* why hast Thou forsaken Me,”* and “O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee,” and other like passages. The fourth is Sabaoth, which is Of Hosts. The fifth Heljon, which we call Most High. The sixth Esér eheie, which is read in Exodus, “I AM hath sent me.”* Seventh, Adonai, which we usually call Lord. Eighth Jah, which is applied to God only, and is heard in the last syllable of Allelu-ia. Ninth is the Tetragrammaton [יהוה] which is called Ineffable. Tenth, Saddai, that is Strong and able to do all things.

In the first place the Prophet exhorts the devout people to praise the Lord, Who setteth up the meek, and breaketh the necks of the proud. O praise the Lord. Secondly, he saith that the Lord ought to be heartily praised, Who granteth benefits which will profit His petitioners, because they who trust in their own strength cannot please Him. O sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving.

Second portion: As usual, we come back to Alleluia; but we feel no weariness in repeating it, and there is such honour given to this word, that though it is concealed in the Hebrew tongue, it is a known fact that it has not been translated into any other language, but whatever is dedicated to the Godhead, reverences the dignity of this word with loving devotion.

In the first paragraph, the Prophet accosts Jerusalem, that is the City on high, that now made secure in her citizens, she ought to praise the Lord with continual rejoicing. Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem. Secondly, he counts up at more length, in mystical expression, what great kindnesses the loving and merciful One hath bestowed on His people. He sendeth out His Word. These Psalms of the praise of David are so ordered, that they speak first of the laws of divine praise, and then of avoiding the sinfulness of the world. Thirdly, there is mention of the gathering together of the Church. Fourthly, when the Psalm is ended, he bids united Jerusalem celebrate the praises of the Lord, as she is known to be delivered from the divers perils of this world, and stablished in everlasting rest. Wherefore he adds that this most holy choir, gathered out of all parts of the world, should rejoice in threefold gladness, that in this most holy task, the grace of the Trinity might everywhere shine.

Syriac Psalter. First portion: Of Haggai and Zechariah. Concerning Zerubbabel and Joshua the Priest, and Ezra, who were careful for the building of Jerusalem. For us praise with the doctrine of God. Second portion: Of Haggai and Zechariah, when they pressed on the completion of the Temple of Jerusalem. And praise with doctrine of God.

Eusebius of Cæsarea. A hymn with a doctrine of God.

S. Athanasius. A Psalm declaring praise.


1 O praise the Lord, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God: yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.

Every work of man asks for payment, (C.) that we may be comforted in the midst of toilsome action with the hope of a fixed reward. In praising God the act has its reward, when that shall be the wages which is now the employment. For since it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God, we are sure that each of us will receive the promised gifts. He does so receive them, when in the fellowship of the angels it is the one reward of the Saints to be occupied in unceasing praise of God. And what can be a happier thing than to practise here what you hope to perform in future blessedness?* And accordingly, in the Preface of the Canon in the Liturgy, when the Priest says to the people, “Let us give thanks to our Lord God;” they answer, “It is meet and right so to do;” and he then takes up the strain again, “It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.” A joyful and pleasant thing it is to he thankful. The A. V. reads For it [to sing praises] is pleasant, and praise is comely. The Vulgate, midway between these versions, has Let praise to our God be pleasant and comely. (D. C.) And then the question arises, to whom is the praise to be pleasant? Some few take it of the spiritual delight of the singer himself, according to that saying of the Prophet, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God;”* but the majority, following S. Augustine, (A.) say that praise is pleasant to God, and comely in itself, when it proceeds from a sincere heart in unison with the practical virtues of a holy life; since “praise is not seemly in the mouth of a sinner, for it was not sent him of the Lord.”*

2 The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: and gather together the outcasts of Israel.

There has never been any doubt, from the time of Origen to the present day, that the primary reference of this verse is to the rebuilding of Jerusalem by Nehemiah,* and the accepted theory now is that the Psalm was composed as an anthem to be sung at the dedication of the walls; as a thanksgiving for the return of the exiles. (H.) But the Christian expositors have naturally looked to the higher spiritual meaning, (A.) of the gradual building of Jerusalem above with living stones, of the assembling together in their country and home of all the pilgrims of Israel who are eagerly waiting to be released from the Babylon of the world; waiting for that signal when “He shall send forth His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds,* from the one end of heaven to the other,”* into the unity of faith,* and the bond of love. And the process of building began with His laying the chief corner-stone, even Himself, in His own Blood, “that He should die, not for that nation only, but also that He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.”* On this foundation He laid the “great stones, the costly stones, and hewed stones”* of the Apostles and Prophets, and yet He still doth build, for “then came the same Sheshbazzar the Prince of Judah, and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem, and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished.”* “Ye,” says the great martyr S. Ignatius to the Church of Ephesus,* “are stones of the Temple of the Father, prepared for the building of God the Father, and drawn up on high by the engine of Jesus Christ, which is the Cross, making use of the Holy Ghost as the rope, while your faith was the means by which ye ascended, and your love the way which led up to God.”

3 He healeth those that are broken in heart: and giveth medicine to heal their sickness.

The story of the building and of the healing are one and the same.* For the breaches of the walls were not due only to the fall of the rebel angels, (G.) but sinful man too went down from Jerusalem to Jericho,* and fell among thieves. Thither the Good Samaritan followed him, to recover the stone which belonged to His city, and replace it in its course; to heal the broken heart by pouring in the oil of grace, to give the medicines of His holy Sacraments, kept in their place by the wholesome bandages of moral precepts, as He bindeth up the wounds (A. V., Vulg.) whereof man was half dead. (A.) Yet as it is not they that are whole that need a physician,* but they that are sick;* it is only on the broken in heart that He can exert His skill. For the hard and stony heart which will not break, there are no medicines available, as for its “wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores, they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.”* But the Lord Jesus,* at the very outset of His ministry,* declared in the synagogue of Nazareth that He it was of whom Isaiah spake when he foretold One Who should “heal the broken-hearted,”* and therefore that we may receive that blessing, we must needs break our hearts with penitence for our sins.

4 He telleth the number of the stars: and calleth them all by their names.

The stars are certain lights in the Church, (A.) which comfort our night, all they of whom the Apostle speaks, “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.”* These stars, all those who are to reign with Him, God numbers; all those who are to be gathered together with Him in the Body of the only Begotten Son He hath numbered, and does number; whoso is unworthy, is not numbered amongst them.* These are the stars of which is written, “The stars shined in their watches, and rejoiced:* when He calleth them, they say, Here we be; and so with cheerfulness they showed light unto Him that made them,” (C.) the true spiritual offspring of Abraham,* multiplied as the stars of heaven. And as in this world’s astronomy there are various names for different kinds of stars, so in the heavenly astronomy there are great groups and classes too,* Apostles, Martyrs, Doctors, Confessors, Virgins; each one of whom is separately known to Him. (R.) And not only known, but guarded, (A.) and preserved, since the reason why we number things is lest any should be lost, and therefore it is added He calleth them all by their names, (D. C.) because they are written in the Book of Life. Wherefore the Lord saith Himself, “He calleth His own sheep by name,”* and again, “I know whom I have chosen.”* And of those that He has so chosen, albeit “one star differeth from another star in glory,”* yet each and all “that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament;* and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”

5 Great is our Lord, and great is his power: yea, and his wisdom is infinite.

Great in His essence, and not only so, but in operation, for which reason His power, which is the visible manifestation of His Almightiness, is named in the second place, as an effect flowing from its cause. (A.) His wisdom is infinite. Literally, Of His wisdom there is no number. As wisdom is not measured by number, many take the word here as signifying the wonderful works done by God, of all which He is fully cognizant, seeing that He hath “ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight;”* but which man is unable to reckon. (C.) Others, however, explain the word as infinite, because that which can be numbered has an end, however remote. There is a third and mystical sense in which the clause is taken. (A.) There is no number of His Wisdom,* because the Only-Begotten Son, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity,* is one with the Father in essence of Godhead; since the terms three and one, which we use in endeavouring to express the nature of Deity,* do not imply arithmetical relations, because God cannot be numbered.

6 The Lord setteth up the meek: and bringeth the ungodly down to the ground.

It is not merely helpeth,* but something much better, lifteth up. And what is this? Refreshing, cherishing, carrying. The Psalmist paints God as a tender Father, Who in His unspeakable providence and love, manages His little children and caresses them. There is no fear of harm coming to those in His divine bosom, seeing that the sword of evil fortune must pierce through God’s side and sweet affection before it can reach them.* So too, He bringeth the ungodly down to the ground, with equal tenderness, because while they are lifted up in their pride, they are in danger of a fatal fall, but He puts them where they are safe, down on the ground of humiliation, till He is ready to take them too up in His arms for rest and shelter.* And after all, He does but put them down to the very place whence the others are lifted up. (C.) It is God’s medicine, and the way He deals with those who make a difficulty over the mysteries, types, and hard places of Holy Writ. (A.) The door is shut in order that people may learn to knock; there is no intention of keeping them out. Be not angry therefore at finding it shut, be gentle and meek, and do not say, It would be better if what is hero were said in this other fashion. How can you tell or judge what is the way it ought to have been said? It has been said exactly as it ought to have been. A sick man does not take upon himself to revise his doctor’s prescriptions; it is the doctor who knows how to modify them. Trust Him who cures thee. Be meek,* and He will lift thee up. If you resist, hear what follows: He bringeth the ungodly down to the ground, and intellectual pride ends only too often in carnal sin and degradation, of the earth, earthy, mean and grovelling.

7 O sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving: sing praises upon the harp unto our God.

For sing, the LXX. has Begin; the Vulgate, uniting both ideas,* Precent, that is, begin the song. A more literal rendering than any of these would be Answer, which implies the antiphonal response of a double choir, but here may be taken as the reply of the grateful heart of man to God, Who has spoken first by His acts of loving-kindness.* The first answer then, is thanksgiving, or, with the LXX. and Vulgate, confession,* the twofold acknowledgment of God’s glory and man’s sin. (C.) And that beginning made, comes next praises on the harp,* the harmonious music of a life which lacks no string of the ten precepts of God’s decachord, no skilled and tuneful fingering by hands active in His service.

8 Who covereth the heavens with clouds, and prepareth rain for the earth: and maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains, and herb for the use of men.

Passing over the literal and obvious meaning of these words, as needing no comment, the ancient expositors turn to the spiritual lessons to be drawn from them. (H.) And first, the clouds are the teachers of heavenly wisdom, drawn themselves from evilness and ignorance up into the higher air of divine contemplation by the attracting heat of the Sun of Righteousness, that their “doctrine may drop as the rain, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass,”* to satisfy a parched and thirsty world. So the Eastern Church says,* “The Apostles, appearing like clouds full of divine light, rain down life-giving water upon all.” Again, the clouds which darken the face of heaven, and yet are so profitable to earth and man, may be understood of the types, figures, and mysteries of Holy Writ, which are designed to accommodate to man’s understanding matters which if expressed as they are in the full clearness of God, (A.) would give no refreshment to our souls, just as a clear blue sky yields no rain.* And finally, God causes our sky to be overcast with trouble, that we may rain tears, and He comfort and grace upon our hearts. (Cd.) Grass to grow upon the mountains. Let us begin by noting some of the properties of grass, before entering upon the lesson it teaches here.* In the first place, it is the great laboratory of food for the world, taking up, assimilating, and vitalizing the inorganic matter it draws from the earth, the water, and the air, and making them fit for the support of those animals on which man himself lives. In its highest forms, the cereals, it is directly as well as mediately, human food. Its root is more fibrous and tenacious than any plant of similar size possesses; its growth is thick and clustering; its stem is coated with flint, so as to be of amazing strength, the leaves are formed so as to push their way easily through the soil, and to present the least surface to the winds, and it grows spontaneously and freely upon great mountain heights, far above the level which man’s husbandry can reach. And many of these mountain grasses, instead of producing flowers and seed, bring forth perfectly formed plants, which strike root the moment the parent stem withers and falls to the ground, and become independent grasses. Were it otherwise, the stormy winds on these high levels would blow the seeds away, and the species would perish. (C.) The mountains, then, are the great Saints of God, whose lofty heights of wisdom, of holiness, of contemplation, form the fittests oil for that spiritual teaching which is to be the food for Christ’s flock, the lovely carpet to cover what else would be the bare, hard earth. No creed save that of the Gospel can put life into dead things, can go to everything for Christ, and to every one with Christ. None other is self-sown. All other creeds have had a human author, but this grows on heights which man’s plough will not reach. None other grows on the far heights. A certain level of civilization and learning is fatal to mere human beliefs; the Buddhist, the Brahmin, the Moslem lose their faith with their ignorance, but the Cross surmounts the highest hills. No other creed is so tenacious of life, so strong, so deep-rooted, and vet so flexible, and none is found so widely diffused, ministering under such different aspects to such diverse races and temperaments. And herb for the use of man. These words are not in the Hebrew, and have been added by the LXX.* from Ps. 104:14. Two interpretations are given of the herb, that it signifies simpler and easier teaching than the grass, though produced by the same teachers; while others understand that the mountains mean rich and powerful people, (A.) whose hearts God touches so that they minister support from their wealth to the preachers of His Word.

9 Who giveth fodder unto the cattle: and feedeth the young ravens that call upon him.

He gives fodder unto the cattle when He instructs His ministers to adapt their teaching to the needs of beginners, (D. C.) as S. Paul witnesses, saying,* “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat.” (H.) He feedeth the young ravens which call upon Him, (C.) when He gives spiritual instruction to the children of sinners, especially such as have lived in the black darkness of idolatry; (whereby the whole Gentile Church is understood,) but who call upon Him, as did Cornelius the centurion, asking in faith for light. And in the fierceness and gross feeding of the black,* unclean raven, which would not return to the Ark, we have a type of sinners in general. Yet God feeds them. Their evil does not make Him less good, He is not less their Father because they deny that they are His children. And if so, if He “provideth for the raven his food,”* will He, in the day of dearth and calamity,* forsake the meek and harmless dove, that mourneth continually in prayer before Him?

10 He hath no pleasure in the strength of an horse: neither delighteth he in any man’s legs.

That is, (Ay.) it is not in the cavalry and infantry of an army, in the display of worldly craft and worldly power, that God takes delight, seeing that it has often been His pleasure to rout a great host with but a handful of men;* so that “he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself, neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself, and he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away in that day, saith the Lord.” (P.) And as the horse is the type of wealth and power, so it is to be noticed that the Lord did not choose kings and rulers for His Apostles, but poor and lowly men; and further, that He did not choose, even amongst these, such as stood on their own merits, relying on their strength and ability to stand,* but lifted up the simple out of the dust, to set him with the princes of the people. Wherefore it follows:

11 But the Lord’s delight is in them that fear him: and put their trust in his mercy.

He joins fear with hope (Vulg.) because fear without hope of pardon is of no use,* nor does hope avail without fear beforehand, for otherwise it would be presumption. Judas the traitor feared, (A.) but did not trust in Christ’s mercy, and therefore he despaired, and departed, and went and hanged himself. If you would as a sinner flee from God’s wrath, fearing Him, flee to His mercy, and sin no more. God puts us to His school, and impresses on us a wholesome awe, not for His glory, but for our profit. To those who will not learn, who are froward and self-willed, who have neither fear nor hope,* He shows Himself stern, but to all those who wish to profit by His lessons, who have faith in the wisdom of their Teacher, to all such He shows that He takes delight in His pupils, and will bring them through their very awe to that perfect knowledge of Himself which casteth out fear,* because it is love.

12 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem: praise thy God, O Sion.

The two names denote one Church under two aspects. (H.) S. Paul knew the first as the heavenly one,* when he spoke of “Jerusalem above, which is free, and the mother of us all.”* And he knew what Sion meant who saith, “Ye are come unto Mount Sion and to the Church of the first-born which are written in heaven.”* Both of them, (A.) the Triumphant and Militant Church, (Ay.) have the praise of God as their one occupation. But they perform it in different ways. The Church Militant praises Him by persevering in works of mercy; the Church Triumphant by pure enjoyment and delight in Him, an occupation full of sweetness, interrupted by no trouble, weakened by no fatigue, disturbed by no cloud. Our work then will be to praise God and to love Him,* “Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house, O Lord, they shall be always praising Thee.” Why? unless that they shall be alway loving Thee. Why? unless that they shall be always beholding Thee.

13 For he hath made fast the bars of thy gates: and hath blessed thy children within thee.

The truest bar of these gates,* that by which they are fastened on the right hand and the left, is that Cross to which He Who is the Door was nailed. It is the bar of the heavenly as well as of the earthly Church,* and it was in the might of its strong resistance that the gates of hell did not prevail against the Gospel, when all kings, and nations, and cities, and hosts of evil spirits, endeavoured to sweep it away. The lesser, (B.) but still important bars of the Church on earth are her great Apostles, doctors, and teachers, by whose vigour and watchfulness the assaults of heresy and unbelief are driven back, and of them, as of bolts and bars, it is written, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,* and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven;”* and also the clear, definite statements of divine truth which mark the limits of belief, and guard men from wandering into error.* Faith, hope, and charity, are three good bars against the devil and his angels, but faith faileth, hope grows feeble, and charity waxes cold, unless each and all be strengthened by the gifts of the Holy Ghost.* And hath blessed thy children. That is, not only made them happy, but also (according to a common Scriptural use of the word blessed) made them numerous, granting to the Church that she should increase and multiply,* subdue and replenish the earth. (B.) And in that it is added within thee, we are taught that there is no promise of blessing to those children of Jerusalem who go out of her. But how, if the Lord has indeed strengthened (A. V. and Vulg.) the bars of the gates, does it come to pass that so many scandals and sorrows trouble the Church Militant? (A.) Why do so many foes steal in, why do so many children rush out? Because here the wheat and tares are mingled, this is the threshing floor, not the garner. It is not said that God has shot the bars of the gates, but that He has strengthened them, and that for future use; for the time when the Bridegroom comes,* and they that be ready shall go in with Him to the marriage, and the door shall be shut. Then the foolish virgins will knock in vain, (D. C.) for those strong bars will be put to their predestined purpose. No foe may thenceforward enter in, for the bar of absolute holiness keeps sin aloof, “and there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither worketh abomination, or a lie.”* No friends shall thenceforward pass out, for the bar of the sure confirmation of the blessed in Christ keeps them safe; as Christ Himself hath declared: “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out.”* And hath blessed thy children within thee, since “blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates to the city.”*

14 He maketh peace in thy borders: and filleth thee with the flour of wheat.

When a city is beleaguered by enemies, (C.) its borders are war, as is the case with unhappy Babylon, but Jerusalem is too strong to be assailed, and no foe may cross the frontier of her territory. In that City on high, there is peace even in the borders,* for the last and lowest Saint in heaven is filled with tranquil rejoicing. Here, in the Church below, albeit without are fightings and within fears,* which will not cease until the pilgrim’s march is ended,* yet “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”* (A.) Perfect peace we cannot have on earth, for the moment full and entire peace is in the soul of one single man, that instant it will be the possession of all the citizens of Jerusalem. There is another sense in which they explain He maketh peace in thy borders,* that it is a prophecy of the Reunion of Christendom, (R.) when those Christian sects which border on the Church in doctrine and ordinances, shall no longer make war against her, but he reconciled in purest amity. And filleth thee with the fat of wheat (Vulg., A. V., marg.*) There is no doubt of what is intended here, the Sacrament of the Bread of Life, found only within the borders of Jerusalem. And observe, how by the grouping of these two words, (Cd.) peace and wheat, we are taught now truly the Sacrament of the Altar is the bond of union and mutual charity amongst the children of Sion.* Hence the ancient rite of the Kiss of Peace,* which made a part of every Liturgy in the Early Church, from at least the time of S. Justin Martyr;* and therefore it is well asked by Tertullian, “What kind of sacrifice is that from which men depart without peace?”* Hear another ancient Christian writer,* “We know nothing of Communion without peace. It is said in the Gospels, ‘First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.’* If we cannot offer our gifts without peace, how much more is this true of receiving the Body of Christ?”

That word filleth,* or as the Vulgate reads, satisfieth, belongs to Jerusalem above, not Sion below. Here we are indeed fed with the fat of wheat, but we feed on the Word of God under the veil of the Sacrament, we drink the water of wisdom, but only from the droppings of Holy Writ, and therefore we are not satisfied yet,* nay, our very blessedness here consists in hungering and thirsting after righteousness. But there the Saints shall taste the sweetness of the Eternal Word with no type nor veil between, there they shall put their lips to the very Source of wisdom, and no longer drink of the mere rills or droppings which come down to water the earth.

15 He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: and his word runneth very swiftly.

He did indeed send His commandment,* the New Law of His kingdom, (C.) upon earth, when He caused it to be preached to every nation under heaven,* and His Word ran very swiftly, (G.) “rejoicing as a giant to run his race,”* when the Only-Begotten Son, the “Almighty Word leaped down from heaven out of Thy royal throne,”* to become Incarnate at Nazareth, to show Himself for a most brief time upon earth, and in the short space of three years’ ministry to renew the world; (C.) and then He spread abroad by the mouth of His Apostles the tidings of salvation with wonderful rapidity, (R.) so that “their sound went out into all lands, (B.) and their words into the end of the world,”* in the power of that Wisdom which “reacheth from one end to another mightily;”* reaching from India in the East to Britain in the West within a few years, whereas the Law had remained fifteen centuries shut up within the limits of one land and people.*

16 He giveth snow like wool: and scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes.

The snow which God sends is not merely like wool in its fleecy texture and delicate whiteness, but because it serves, in despite of its own coldness, as a great coverlet to keep the earth sheltered and warm from the keen frost and bitter blasts of winter, lulling it as it were in healthful and restful sleep, so that the seeds and herbage are saved from blight, and suffered to grow, hidden beneath the pall. So the Latin poet expresses the idea:

Aspice quam densum tacitarum vellus aquarum Defluat.*

See, what a thick fleece of silent waters falls.

The hoar-frost, powdered lightly over the ground everywhere, like ashes, also penetrates below the surface of the earth, and expanding as it does so, breaks up the soil, making it friable, and easier for plants to shoot upwards through; (A.) and kills much of the insect life which would destroy the vegetation if unchecked. So God takes sinners, cold and lifeless, with neither spiritual fervour nor practical activity, and transfigures them, so that as Christ’s raiment when He flashed forth His radiance for a moment on earth, “became shining, exceeding white as snow;”* conversely, this chill snow becomes the raiment of Christ, without spot or wrinkle—do but look at a pure expanse of snow, and see the full beauty of S. Augustine’s figure here—and keeps,* in new-found charity, His members warm. And the frost, which breaks up the hard soil, and does more good the deeper it goes, what is it save those salutary afflictions which God sends, that sinners may be softened, and fitted to receive the seed of His Word, till they themselves, once colder than the snow itself, may, kindled through and through with the fervour of divine love,* become like ashes, tokens alike of fire and of penitence, the relics of a whole burnt-offering upon the altar of God, and are spread abroad as a fertilizing compost over the fields which will one day be ripe for harvest?

17 He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who is able to abide his frost?

The word פִּתִּים, here translated morsels, means in most of the places where it occurs in the Bible,* pieces of bread,1 exactly the LXX. ψωμούς, for this very ice, this wintry cold, is profitable to the earth, to fit it for bearing, for the future harvests, (A.) and thus matures the morsels of bread which man will yet win from the soil in due season. S. Augustine, who explains that ice, more solid cold than snow or frost,2 denotes the most hardened sinners, not so much coarse and depraved ones, as hard, keen, clear enemies of the truth, not as ignorant of it, but deliberately resisting it, of whom Saul of Tarsus was a perfect type, (C.) when in his stern relentlessness he voted for and assisted at the death of the martyr Stephen, and yet in God’s providence was cast forth to feed the Gentiles hungering for the Bread of Life; himself, as a member of Christ, being a morsel of that Bread. And when God did so send forth the mighty preacher, who was able to abide His frost? None, for the resistless glacier came down from the mountain height of divine contemplation, (Cd.) and levelled in its onward march the idol temples in the plain below. Two other interpretations of the text merit to be set down. Ice is pure and translucent, and that pure and crystalline substance which is sent forth as morsels of bread is the most Holy Sacrament of Christ’s Body, (B.) shining, heavenly, glorious, the pure and wondrous transformation of our earthly body, which He deigned to take as His own. Lastly, the ice, in its stern rigidity and coldness, is an emblem of the Mosaic Law, broken up by God’s grace, since who could abide that frost? It was “a yoke which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear,”* is the testimony of the Prince of the Apostles. But now, that all its figures have been made clear, all its shadows lost in the light,* that which was as a stone given us by our Father has become bread, its hardness gone, its digestion easy. (A.) Who can abide His frost? Who is really in love with sin, who can bear to be cold and hard, unwarmed by the genial rays of the Sun of Righteousness? Does any despair because he is snow and ice when he would fain be fire and heat? Let him be of good cheer, for

18 He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he bloweth with his wind, and the waters flow.

The remedy for sin is at hand,* the prison of winter is unlocked by bright sun and warm breezes, by the Incarnation of Jesus, and the Mission of the Holy Ghost; the south wind blows through the garden of God,* and its spices flow out. The waters flow, when the hard heart melts into penitent tears, the waters flow when all the mighty powers of heart and hand, (A.) but lately frozen up in unbelief, (B.) melt and come down in eloquent torrents of doctrine, and freed from the icy restraints of the Old Testament, irrigate the fields below, and the thankful nations bow them down and drink, as they did when the Word, with His one cry of “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”* melted the stern persecutor;* when the Holy Spirit of God set him apart for the work of evangelizing the Gentiles; wherefore it follows:

19 He showeth his word unto Jacob: his statutes and ordinances unto Israel.

20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: neither have the heathen knowledge of his laws.

The younger people, (A.) the Gentile Church, has had the Word, the Incarnate Son, manifested to it, before its eyes “Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth.”* The Word came first to the literal Jacob, (H.) the carnal Israel, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not; but as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.”* The new Jacob has supplanted his elder brother, for “blindness in part is happened unto Israel,* until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”* The first part of God’s grace is showing His Word, that we may embrace Him by faith, while we are still struggling as Jacob; the next is the process of sanctification through obedience when, after promising allegiance to our King, He explains to us the laws of His kingdom, and makes us Israel, princes with Him. He hath not dealt so with any nation. As He chose the Hebrews for His own peculiar people, intrusted them with the care of His oracles, (D. C.) was Himself their King and Lawgiver, and later vouchsafed to be born of the tribe of Judah, they were above all nations of the earth bound to hear and obey Him. (Ay.) But now these words, which once described their exalted privileges, are taken away from them, and applied to the Christian Church, gathered out of those very heathens who had no knowledge of His laws; but are now favoured by His grace, while vast tracts of the earth are even still overrun with false creeds, so that those who have been nurtured in the Gospel can only marvel at and bless the great goodness of God, (A.) Who has strengthened the bars of their gates, (P.) blessed them within Jerusalem, made all their borders peace, filled them with the fatness of wheat, sent forth His great preachers for their learning, made the waters of the Old Testament flow down from their icy prison under the influence of the Spirit, and has kept all these mercies for them alone, so that this very election is the seventh of the graces He here bestows.


Glory be to the Father, Who sendeth forth His Word; glory be to the Son, Himself the Word, Who melteth sinners; glory be to the Holy Ghost, the Wind that maketh the waters flow.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.





Saturday: Vespers. [Second portion: vv. 12–20. Corpus Christi, Comm. B.V.M., Comm. Virg., Dedication: Vespers. Sarum also Christmas Day and Trinity Sunday: I. Vespers.]

Ambrosian. Saturday: Vespers.

Parisian. First portion: vv. 1–11. Wednesday: Lauds. Second portion. Thursday: Lauds.

Lyons. First portion: Saturday: Compline. Second portion: Saturday: Vespers.

Quignon. Saturday: Vespers.




First portion: To our God * let praise be pleasant. Second portion: Praise Christ the Lord * O Jerusalem. [Corpus Christi: The Lord Who setteth peace in the borders of the Church, filleth us with the flour of wheat. Com. B.V.M.: Thou art fair, and pleasant for delights, O holy Mother of God. Com. Virg.: She is fair * among the daughters of Jerusalem. Dedication: All thy walls are precious stones, and the towers of Jerusalem shall be built up with jewels.]

Ambrosian. First portion: As Gregorian. Second portion: For He hath stablished * the bars of thy gates. K. K. K.

Parisian. First portion: The Lord’s delight is in them that fear Him * and put their trust in His mercy. Second portion: The Lord showeth His Word unto Jacob: His statutes unto Israel, He hath not dealt so with any nation.

Lyons. Second portion: He bloweth with His wind, and the waters flow.

Mozarabic. First portion: Who healeth those that are broken in heart, and bindeth up their bruises * Great is our Lord; and great is His power. Second portion: Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem: Praise thy God, O Sion.


O God, (Lu.) Builder of the heavenly Jerusalem, Who both numberest the multitude of the stars, and callest them all by their names; heal, we pray Thee, them that are broken of heart, gather together the outcasts, and enrich us with Thine infinite wisdom. (1.)

Strengthen, (Lu.) O Lord, the gates of Thy Church, and set peace in her borders, and vouchsafe to give her the fatness of spiritual wheat. (1.)

O God,* Who healest them that are broken of heart, grant medicine for our wound, and Thou Who numberest the multitude of the stars, unite us with them that are predestined unto life, that Thy delight may be in us, and Thou mayest bid us be exalted in everlasting salvation. (11.)

O Lord,* Who hast made Jerusalem the border of peace, bestow abundance of Thy peace on Thy believing people, to rule us in immortality, and possess us in everlasting life. And Thou, O Lord, Who wilt satisfy us with the fulness of wheat, grant that what we now behold as a figure, we may enjoy, even Thee, in all things with the clearness of truth. (11.)

Quell, (D. C.) O Lord, the terrors and wars of spiritual wickedness, graciously make peace in our borders, strengthen the bars of the gates of Thine House, and bless us, the children of new grace, nor suffer the children of darkness to prevail against us any more. (1.)

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Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 111

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 22, 2016


Arg. Thomas. That Christ bestows the spiritual food of His Word on them that suffer hunger. The Voice of the Church concerning Christ, with praise. Of penitence with praise.

Ven. Bede. His people praiseth the Lord, because freed from the destruction of the world, it knows not how to endure the slavery of sins. This is the first Psalm with the Hebrews which goes through the whole course of the Alphabet, although there are many persons who suppose that other previous ones are written in alphabetical order, for in them there are either some missing or some superfluous letters, and sometimes when one verse is short, another is extended to inordinate length.1 Whence I imagine that this arises rather from the observation of readers than the intention of the writer. And further, the Seventy translators, because some scruple arose in them, did not choose to insert the Hebrew letters in their version.

The nation of the blessed gathered from various parts of the world, at the first outset of the Psalm saith that it confesseth unto the Lord in the congregation of the righteous, where laud is everlasting, and praise without end: I will confess unto Thee, O Lord. Secondly, it says that the faithful have been satisfied with an abundant gift, promising at the same time the Advent of the Lord, that they may search after the promised inheritance with most eager intentness: He hath made a memorial of His marvels. Thirdly, it declares that Christians have been redeemed, in the New Testament hallowed by everlasting grace: He sent redemption unto His people. The first part contains six letters: the second ten: the third, six. And just as little children are taught by letters that they may advance to wisdom, so psalms of this kind are given to the uninstructed and beginners, that their first attempts may be guided, as though with certain rudiments.

Syriac Psalter. Anonymous. Concerning the excellency of the works of God, and enjoining us to give thanks unto Christ. Spoken in the person of the Apostles.

Eusebius of Cæsarea. A thanksgiving to Christ.

S. Athanasius. A psalm having a mingled confession, and a narrative with praise.


1 [Alleluia.] I will give thanks unto the Lord (א) with my whole heart: secretly among the faithful, (ב) and in the congregation.

That man gives thanks unto the Lord with his whole heart who does so unfeignedly,* and not for any present advantage or gain, but heartily and entirely, for he who praises God with half his heart, is deceitful, and not single-hearted. We ought not then to praise Him with one part of us,* and allow the other to incline to sin; lest while we are lifting one foot of the soul up to holiness, we should suffer the other to remain in the mire of sin. Secretly among the faithful.* This is rather a paraphrase than the precise translation, which is in the council of the upright, but the Hebrew word סו̇ד for council also means secret, implying a small number of trusty advisers distinct from and higher than the general congregation. And thus the notion implied is that of conversing with those of tried piety and wisdom on the deeper mysteries of the Faith, while joining also in the public worship of the less instructed flock. (A.) S. Augustine accordingly explains the former term as denoting the college of the Apostles, (C.) the latter as designating the whole Church; and his exposition is generally followed, with the extension of the council to all able teachers of righteousness. Cardinal Hugo,* looking to the word confess, suggests that we have in this verse a recommendation to choose wise and pious confessors to guide us in holiness, and then to make full and public satisfaction in presence of the Church for any faults we have committed.

2 The works of the Lord are great: (ג) sought out of all them that have pleasure therein (ד).

This is the true sense of the passage,* signifying that eager zeal in the study of the deep things of God which characterizes His true followers.* And that because, as a Saint teaches us, knowledge goes before the cultivation of virtue, because no one can heartily desire that of which he is ignorant, nor can he fear an evil unless it be known. Another interpretation, which comes practically to the same thing, translates the second clause,* sought out because of all their pleasantness,* which may be especially taken of the words and acts of Christ when He was in bodily presence on earth. But the LXX. and Vulgate turn the clause, sought out for all His wills; that is, that every part of creation, everything which exists, has its divinely appointed task and place in working out some purpose of God; and that even in the case of such things as seem most adverse to Him, man’s free-will, sickness, sin, death, and the like,* they do but carry out His higher designs. All God’s works, both of the first and second creation, (A.) of nature and of grace, are great; but a favourite application of every verse of this Psalm to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar,* has made some commentators dwell on it here particularly, as that which has been devised by His love for the sanctification of men. And we then get another sense of for all His wills, (Z.) that such works of God as this and other acts of His grace, dispose all devout and wise persons to do His will with all their might.

3 His work is worthy to be praised, and had in honour: (ה) and his righteousness endureth for ever (ו).

Here the LXX.* and Vulgate read in the first clause, Confession and magnificence are His work. And they take it as well in the literal sense of the glorious beauty of creation, affording matter for our acknowledgment and praise of His power, (C.) as in a more spiritual sense: namely, that the conversion of sinners, leading them to confession of their own sins,* and of the glory of the Holy Trinity (as in the case of S. Paul,) (A.) together with the bright purity of soul (and in some cases the shining gifts of miraculous power) vouchsafed to penitents, are God’s work, not man’s; spring from His love and grace, not from their strength and merit; and then His righteousness, whereby He rewards such confession and magnificence, endureth for ever, in that His promises can never fail, His justifying grace cannot be overruled, His sentence at the Last Day is irrevocable, whether for the doomed or the blessed.

4 The merciful and gracious Lord hath so done his marvellous works: (ז) that they ought to be had in remembrance (ח).

The Prayer Book here misses the force of the Hebrew, nor is the A. V. more exact. The LXX. and Vulgate are precisely right in translating, He hath made a memorial of His wonderful works. Yet this may be taken, if considered apart from the succeeding verse, as denoting much what the Prayer Book version suggests, that God’s dealings with His people and against their enemies were so conspicuous and memorable,* as well in the days of the Patriarchs, Judges, (Z.) and Kings of Israel as in those of the Apostles and Martyrs of Christ, that they became a monument for the gaze and instruction of posterity. But when we carry on our eyes to the succeeding words, we come to a yet deeper meaning:

5 He hath given meat unto them that fear him: (ט) he shall ever be mindful of his covenant (י).

The word memorial in the previous verse is זֵכֶר, that which is used of the Passover in Exodus 12:14 and 13:9, which gives us one reference to the meat here mentioned, while there is, in all probability, a further allusion to the manna in the wilderness; for the word טֶרֶף, here translated meat, is more exactly rendered in the A. V. margin as prey: either spoil in battle, or more probably, the flesh of beasts taken in hunting, of course in uninhabited places like the wilderness. Hence we have, as the idea present to the mind of the Psalmist, the great Festivals of the Jewish Church,* and the feast on the attendant sacrifices, (which may very well be called “prey” in the sense of being the produce of a land conquered by force of Hebrew valour in old time), the food given to the worshippers, whose share in the service proved their fear of God.* And thus we come at once to the sense followed by all the greatest Christian expositors, that we have here a prophecy of the Holy Eucharist, of which its Founder spake, saying, “Offer this for a Memorial of Me;”1* a gift which none could have bestowed save a merciful and gracious Lord. (A.) Nor does the word “prey” make this application less suitable, (L.) for in that adorable mystery we proclaim the death of Christ, remembering how His persecutors pursued Him upon the mountains, and laid wait for Him in the wilderness, till “the breath of our nostrils, the Anointed of the Lord, was taken in their pits,”* and given to us thenceforward to be our food, “for wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”* Or, if we take “prey” as the spoil in battle, so this holy banquet, like the bread and wine Melchizedek gave to victorious Abraham, is meant only for those that overcome their spiritual foes. (Cd.) And as He fulfilled His covenant to Abraham and Moses,* in giving the land of Canaan to the children of Israel,* so, because the cup of this most holy Sacrament is the New Covenant in His Blood, (D. C.) He is reminded of His promises in that Testament every time we celebrate the Christian Sacrifice, of His oath to us to give us a better country, where we shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of our Father, be as the Angels of God, and because servants of Christ, be where He is also.

6 He hath showed his people the power of his works: (כ) that he may give them the heritage of the heathen (ל).

The first reference is to the ejection of the seven nations from Palestine before the face of Israel,* aided by the mighty hand of God; and then, by a simple and obvious transition, (C.) the words denote the subjugation of the heathen to the law of Christ, by the spreading of His Church; and finally, they mean the conquest of heaven by the Saints, and their occupation of those seats whence the rebel angels fell. In connection with the previous verse, and still keeping to the idea of the Holy Eucharist, we may remember, on the one hand,* that the memorial character of that sacred rite causes it to bring before us all the power of the Lord’s work in His Incarnation, (P.) Passion,* Resurrection, and Ascension, besides the spiritual miracle of change wrought upon the elements themselves;* while in its strengthening properties, as conveying to us the grace and might of Christ, it makes us vigorous enough to take the kingdom of heaven by storm. A reference to the power of Christ displayed in the Resurrection, (Ay.) is the probable reason of the Anglican use of this Psalm on Easter Day.

7 The works of his hands are verity and judgment: (מ) all his commandments are true (נ).

Here again the first reference is to the punishment of the Canaanites:* and God’s dealings with them, in depriving them of their settlements and transferring them to another people, are vindicated on the score of justice; because the seven nations had transgressed His plainest commandments,* such as are familiar even to natural religion, and therefore God, after enumerating the horrible crimes which were prevalent amongst them,* spake to Israel by Moses: “Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these things the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity of the land upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.”* And in His conquest of the heathen by His Church the same rule holds, (A.) for although He suffered His martyrs to be haled to prison and to judgment, yet His truth prevailed by that very persecution, so as to become known and dear to countless thousands. His work in the soul is truth, in teaching us to love that which is right and holy; it is judgment, in showing us how to sit in trial upon our doings,* and to condemn our sins. And He will show His verity again in the Last Day by rewarding according to His most true promise them that have kept His commandments faithfully, (C.) and His judgment by condemning such as have continued obstinately in rebellion against Him.* One commentator tells us that we have the method of true penitence, which is God’s commandment, set forth plainly in the first clause of this verse: verity, implying candour of the mouth in acknowledgment of our sins; judgment, the genuine contrition which condemns them in the heart, so as to forsake them altogether; works of the hands, the acts of satisfaction in reparation of our past misdoings. And, continuing the Eucharistic gloss, (Ay.) they remind us that the Sacrament is the work of Christ’s hands, as He is its sole Institutor; it is verity, because of the Real Presence, being no mere figure of an absent Person: and judgment, because of the condemnation of unworthy communicants.

8 They stand fast for ever and ever: (ס) and are done in truth and equity (ע).

The vindication of God’s ways continues.* It may not be pleaded by sinners that new laws and conventional statutes can set aside His moral commandments, since these are for ever and ever, and thus, if man’s enactments profess to legalize aught which He has condemned, as adultery and divorce, they are inherently void, and carry no sanction with them. His laws have truth on their side, (C.) because God will most certainly fulfil what He hath spoken concerning them; they have equity, because they are no mere positive and variable rules, but based on the profoundest morality. And because of their efficacy and power, it is well said, that they are done, not spoken, in truth and equity. The Carmelite, (Ay.) continuing his reference to the Blessed Sacrament, declares it to stand fast for ever and ever, by reason of the indelible character of the priesthood, and the impossibility of any other oblation supplementing the Eucharist till the end of time, while he takes truth, as before, to denote the Real Presence; since in the Holy Eucharist an evil priest and an evil communicant can neither of them prevent the power of the Sacrament from being there, whereas in Baptism an insincere catechumen derives nothing whatever from the rite. And equity he goes on to explain as that property of the Holy Eucharist by which it precisely adapts itself to each communicant, being profitable to the devout, and more than perilous to the impenitent.

Bad and good the feast are sharing
O what diverse dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life!
Life to these, to those damnation:
See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.

9 He sent redemption unto his people: (פ) he hath commanded his covenant for ever; (צ) holy and reverend is his Name (ק).

The deliverance from Egyptian bondage, the giving of the Law, (L.) the proclamation of the Divine titles to Moses, form the first meaning here. But the Psalmist is looking forward to much more glorious events than these: even to those which God Himself foretold by the mouth of the Prophet: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”* And that was fulfilled when “the Lord God of Israel visited and redeemed His people,”* and “Christ, being come an High Priest of good things to come, (A.) obtained eternal redemption for us;”* (C.) and commanded His new covenant, appointing it by the hands of His Apostles,* after it had been “established upon better promises”* than the former one, which, decayed and waxed old, was then ready to vanish away, whereas this one is to abide for evermore, in the power of that Name which is holy and beloved by the Saints, but terrible (LXX. and Vulg., rightly,) to the wicked, (Ay.) remembering His office and title as Judge of the whole world, (C.) In like manner, as in the previous verse, we are reminded of the perpetual duration of the Holy Eucharist, and its twofold effect on those who eat thereof.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: (ד) a good understanding have all they that do I thereafter; (ש) the praise of it endureth for ever (ת).

As there are two ways of fearing God:* a servile dread and a filial reverence, it is needful to inquire which is here intended. And on this S. Thomas says: The beginning of wisdom is a term which can be used in two ways; one, that it is the beginning, as regards the essence of wisdom; the other, as regards the effect of it. Just so, in any art, its essential beginning consists of the principles whence it is derived; but its effective beginning is that whence the exercise of the art begins. So we may call a foundation the beginning of architecture, because the architect begins to rear his work thereon. But seeing that wisdom is the knowledge of divine things, we look at it in one way and metaphysicians in another. For as the end of our life is the fruition of God, and is guided in accordance with a certain share of divine nature, bestowed on us by grace; we do not consider wisdom merely as having to do with the knowledge of God, as the metaphysicians regard it, but also in so far as it is the guide of human life, which has to be regulated not only by human reasons but by divine ones. As then the beginning of wisdom according to its essence is the first principles of wisdom, which are the articles of faith, in this respect we call faith the beginning of wisdom. But so far as the effect of wisdom is concerned, its beginning is that whence wisdom begins to work, and in this way fear is the beginning of wisdom. But servile fear is this beginning in one fashion, and filial fear in quite another. Servile fear is a kind of outward beginning, urging towards wisdom, in so far as any one departs from sin through fear of punishment, and is in this wise got ready for the operation of wisdom, as it is written in Ecclesiasticus: “The fear of the Lord driveth away sins.”* But pure or filial fear is the beginning of wisdom, as the first effect of wisdom itself. For as it is part of wisdom that human life should be regulated according to divine reasons, it ought to have its beginning from this, that man reverence God, and submit himself to Him.* But even this filial dread is no more than the beginning of wisdom.* Perfect wisdom is love, which casteth out fear.* And because of all the good things which flow from the fear of God, which the Wise Man enumerates for us, including honour, glory, gladness, a crown of rejoicing, long life, peace, and perfect health, with much besides, a good understanding have all they that do thereafter. Not, be it observed, they who know and are learned in the theory, but they that do, for it is written: “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin,”* and, moreover, “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.”* The praise of it endureth for ever. That is, in this way of reading the words, the praise of such understanding as prompts a man to keep God’s commandments, (A.) and therefore the praise of that man himself,* shall endure for ever,* because he shall dwell in the house of the Lord always, and join in the millenary Song of heavenly praise;* and will, moreover, himself be praised and commended by his Lord as a good and faithful servant, and will hear the words of eulogy echoed by all the Saints and Angels.* But it seems better to take the clause, with A. V., (Z.) His praise endureth for ever; that is, the praise of the Lord, our Redemption, Whose Name is blessed to ages of ages. (C.) His praise can have no end, because His bounties are inexhaustible. We praise Him here on earth, because He rescues sinners; we shall praise Him in the world to come, because He crowns His Saints; and thus this Psalm, which begins with Alleluia, fitly ends with the declaration that this Song of laud shall resound for evermore.


Glory be to the Father, Who hath sent Redemption unto His people; glory be to the Son, Who hath given us the meat of His new Covenant as a memorial of His wondrous works; glory be to the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of understanding and of the fear of the Lord.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.


Gregorian and Monastic. Sunday and Festivals: Vespers. [Corpus Christi: Vespers.]

Ambrosian. Sunday: Vespers. [Christmas Day: II. Nocturn.]

Parisan. Sunday: Vespers.

Lyons. Sunday: Vespers.

Quignon. Sunday: Vespers.


O God, glorious confession of all Saints,* grant us the fear of Thy Name, which Thou hast declared to be the beginning of wisdom, that joined to the councils of Thy servants, we may be filled with the banquet of Thy mercy. (1.)

Great are Thy works, O Lord,* sought out for all Thy wills. Grant us, Thy servants, while we admire the greatness of Thy works, to praise with due confession the glory of the Creator, and search out with reverent wisdom Thy faithful commandments, and achieve with obedient fear the perfect comeliness of understanding. (11.)

O merciful and gracious Lord, (D. C.) Who with Thy wonted goodness hast long spared us sinners; fill us at length with a good understanding, and pour into our minds fear, the beginning of Thy wisdom, and make us to please Thee by living henceforth a sober and godly life. (1.)

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Commentaries for the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 22, 2016


Year A: Commentaries for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Year B: Commentaries for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Year C: Commentaries for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Peter 1:3-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Peter 1:3-9.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Homily on 1 Peter 1:3-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Peter 1:3-9.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 111.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 111.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 111.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 10:17-27.

A Homily on Mark 10:17-27 by Pope Benedict XVI.

A Second Homily on Mark 10:17-27 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 10:17-27.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Peter 1:10-16.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Peter 1:10-16.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 98.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 98.

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 98.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 98.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 10:28-31.

St Catherine of Siena on Mark 10:28-31.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 10:28-31.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father MacEvily’s Commentary on 1 Peter 1:18-25. Includes note on verse 17.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Peter 1:18-25.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 147.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 147.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 147.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 147.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 10:32-45.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 10:32-45.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Peter 2:2-5, 9-12.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Peter 2:2-5, 9-12.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 100.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 100.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 100.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 100.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 10:46-52.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Peter 4:7-13.

My Notes on 1 Peter 4:7-13.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 96.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea Mark 11:11-26.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 11:11-26.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father MacEvily’s Commentary on Jude 17, 20b-25.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Jude 17, 20b-25.

Father Boylan’s Introduction and Commentary on Psalm 63.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 63.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 11:27-33.


Year A: Commentaries for the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Year B: Commentaries for the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Year C: Commentaries for the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Daily Catholic Lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Commentareis for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 22, 2016


Today’s Mass Readings (NABRE). Translation used in the USA.

Today’s Mass Readings (NJB). Scroll down slightly. The NJB is used in most other English speaking countries.

Today’s Divine Office.

Anglican Use Daily Office. ”Briefly, it is a provision for an “Anglican style” liturgy similar to the Book of Common Prayer as an ecclesiastically approved variant on the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.” More info.


Navarre Commentary on Genesis 14:18-20.

Homilist’s Catechism on Genesis 14:18-20.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 110.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 110.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 110.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 110. On verses 1-5, 7.


Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

Joseph Ricakby’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

Navarre Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

Homilist’s Catechism on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 9:11-17.

Navarre Commentary on Luke 9:11-17.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Luke 9:11-17. On 12-17.


Priesthood and Eucharist. Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma.

Doctrinal Homily Outlines. Gives theme of the readings, doctrinal message, suggested pastoral applications.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological notes.

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