The Divine Lamp

Archive for October, 2022

St Augustine’s Sermon on Luke 12:35

Posted by carmelcutthroat on October 16, 2022


1. OUR Lord Jesus Christ both came to men, and went away from men, and is to come to men. And yet He was here when He came, nor did He depart when He went away, and He is to come to them to whom He said, “Lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the world.”1 According to the “form of a servant” then, which He took for our sakes, was He born at a certain time, and was slain, and rose again, and now “dieth no more, neither shall death have any more dominion over Him;”2 but according to His Divinity, wherein He was equal to the Father, was He already in this world, and “the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.”3 On this point ye have just heard the Gospel, what admonition it has given us, putting us on our guard, and wishing us to be unencumbered and prepared to await the end; that after these last4 things, which are to be feared in this world, that rest may succeed which hath no end. Blessed are they who shall be partakers of it. For then shall they be in security, who are not in security now; and again then shall they fear, who will not fear now. Unto this waiting, and for this hope’s sake, have we been made Christians. Is not our hope not of this world? Let us then not love the world. From the love of this world have we been called away, that we may hope for and love another. In this world ought we to abstain from all unlawful desires, to have, that is, “our loins girded;” and to be fervent and to shine in good works, that is, to have “our lights burning.” For the Lord Himself said to His disciples in another place of the Gospel, “No man lighteth a candle and putteth it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that it may give light unto all that are in the house.”5 And to show of what He was speaking, He subjoined and said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”6

2. Therefore He would that “our loins should be girded, and our lights burning.”7 What is, “our loins girded”? “Depart from evil.”8 What is to “burn”? What is to have our “lights burning”? It is this, “And do good.” What is that which He said afterwards, “And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when He will return from the wedding:”9 except that which follows in that Psalm, “Seek after peace, and ensue it”?10 These three things, that is, “abstaining from evil, and doing good,” and the hope of everlasting reward, are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, where it is written, that Paul taught them of “temperance and righteousness,”11 and the hope of eternal life. To temperance belongs, “let your loins be girded.” To righteousness, “and your lights burning.” To the hope of eternal life, the waiting for the Lord. So then, “depart from evil,” this is temperance, these are the loins girded: “and do good,” this is righteousness, these are the “lights burning;” “seek peace, and ensue it,” this is the waiting for the world to come: therefore, “Be ye like unto men that wait for their Lord, when He will come from the wedding.”

3. Having then these precepts and promises, why seek we on earth for “good days,” where we cannot find them? For I know that ye do seek them, when ye are either sick, or in any of the tribulations, which in this world abound. For when life draws towards its close, the old man is full of complaints, and with no joys. Amid all the tribulations by which mankind is worn away, men seek for nothing but “good days,” and wish for a long life, which here they cannot have. For even a man’s long life is narrowed within so short a span to the wide extent of all ages, as if it were but one drop to the whole sea. What then is man’s life, even that which is called a long one? They call that a long life, which even in this world’s course is short; and as I have said, groans abound even unto the decrepitude of old age. This at the most is but brief, and of short duration; and yet how eagerly is it sought by men, with how great diligence, with how great toil, with how great carefulness, with how great watchfulness, with how great labour do men seek to live here for a long time, and to grow old. And yet this very living long, what is it but running to the end? Thou hadst yesterday, and thou dost wish also to have to-morrow. But when this day and to-morrow are passed, thou hast them not. Therefore thou dost wish for the day to break, that that may draw near to thee whither thou hast no wish to come. Thou makest some annual festival with thy friends, and hearest it there said to thee by thy well-wishers, “Mayest thou live many years,” thou dost wish that what they have said, may come to pass. What? Dost thou wish that years and years may come, and the end of these years come not? Thy wishes are contrary to one another; thou dost wish to walk on, and dost not wish to reach the end.

4. But if, as I have said, there is so great care in men, as to desire with daily, great and perpetual labours, to die somewhat later: with how great cause ought they to strive, that they may never die? Of this, no one will think. Day by day “good days” are sought for in this world, where they are not found; yet no one wishes so to live, that he may arrive there where they are found. Therefore the same Scripture admonishes us, and says, “Who is the man that wisheth for life, and loveth to see good days?”11 Scripture so asked the question, as that It knew well what answer would be given It; knowing that all men would “seek for life and good days.” In accordance with their desire It asked the question, as if the answer would be given It from the heart of all, “I wish it;” It said thus, “Who is the man that wisheth for life, and loveth to see good days?” Just as even at this very hour in which I am speaking to you, when ye heard me say, “Who is the man that wisheth for life, and loveth to see good days?” ye all answered in your heart, “I.” For so do I too, who am speaking with you, “wish for life and good days;” what ye seek, that do I seek also.

5. Just as if gold were necessary for us all, and we all, I as well as you, were wishing to get at the gold, and there was some anywhere in a field of yours, in a place subject to your power, and I were to see you searching for it, and were to say to you, “What are ye searching for?” ye were to answer me, “Gold.” And I were to say to you, “Ye are searching for gold, and I am searching for gold too: what ye are searching for, I am searching for; but ye are not searching for it where we can find it. Listen to me then, where we can find it; I am not taking it away from you, I am showing you the spot;” yea, let us all follow Him, who knows where what we are seeking for, is. So now too seeing that ye desire “life and good days,” we cannot say to you, “Do not desire ‘life and good days;’ ” but this we say, “Do not seek for ‘life and good days’ here in this world, where ‘good days’ cannot be.” Is not this life itself like unto death? Now these days here hasten and pass away: for to-day has shut out yesterday; to-morrow only rises that it may shut out to-day. These days themselves have no abiding; wherefore wouldest thou abide with them? Your desire then whereby ye wish for “life and good days,” I not only do not repress, but I even more strongly inflame. By all means “seek” for “life, seek for good days;” but let them be sought there, where they can be found.

6. For would ye with me hear His counsel, who knoweth where “good days” and where “life” is? Hear it not from me, but together with me. For One says to us, “Come, ye children, hearken unto Me.” And let us run together, and stand, and prick up our ears, and with our hearts understand the Father, who hath said, “Come, ye children, hearken unto Me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”12 And then follows what he would teach us, and to what end the fear of the Lord is useful. “Who is the man that wisheth life, and loveth to see good days?” We all answer, “We wish it.” Let us listen then to what follows, “Refrain thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile.”13 Now say, “I wish it.” Just now when I said, “Who is the man that wisheth for life, and loveth to see good days?” we all answered, “I.” Come then, let some one now answer “I.” So then, “Refrain thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile.” Now say, “I.” Wouldest thou then have “good days” and “life,” and wouldest thou not “refrain thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile”? Alert to the reward, slow to the work! And to whom if he does not work is the reward rendered? I would that in thy house thou wouldest render the reward even to him that does work! For to him that works not, I am sure thou dost not render it. And why? Because thou owest nothing to him that does not work! And God hath a reward proposed. What reward? “Life and good days,” which life we all desire, and unto which days we all strive to come. The promised reward He will give us. What reward? “Life and good days.” And what are “good days”? Life without end, rest without labour.

7. Great is the reward He hath set before us: in so great a reward as is set before us, let us see what He hath commanded us. For enkindled by the reward of so great a promise, and by the love of the reward, let us make ready at once our strength, our sides, our arms, to do His bidding. Is it as if He were to command us to carry heavy burdens, to dig something it may be, or to raise up some machine? No, no such laborious thing hath He enjoined thee, but hath enjoined thee only to “refrain” that member which amongst all thy members thou dost move so quickly. “Refrain thy tongue from evil.” It is no labour to erect a building, and is it a labour to hold in the tongue? “Refrain thy tongue from evil.” Speak no lie, speak no revilings, speak no slanders, speak no false witnesses, speak no blasphemies. “Refrain thy tongue from evil.” See how angry thou art, if any one speaks evil of thee. As thou art angry with another, when he speaks evil of thee; so be thou angry with thyself, when thou speakest evil of another. “Let thy lips speak no guile.” What is in thine heart within, be that spoken out. Let not thy breast conceal one thing, and thy tongue utter another. “Depart from evil, and do good.” For how should I say, “Clothe the naked,” to him who up to this time would strip him that is clothed? For he that oppresses his fellow-citizen, how can he take in the stranger? So then in proper order, first “depart from evil,” and “do good;” first “gird up thy loins,” and then “light the lamp.” And when thou hast done this, wait in assured hope for “life and good days.” “Seek peace, and ensue it;” and then with a good face wilt thou say unto the Lord, “I have done what Thou hast bidden, render me what Thou hast promised.”

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The Moral Concordance of St Anthony of Padua on Prayer

Posted by carmelcutthroat on October 14, 2022

 Of prayer, and its efficacy: Ex. 8:9; 14:16; 32:11  Num. 11:2; 12:13; 16:31  Josh. 10:13  1 Sam. 1:15, 27; 7:8; 12:23  1 Kings 3:9; 17:1, 21; 18:38  2 Kings 4:34; 20:10 2 Chron. 20:3; 30:1, 2Ezra 10:1 Ps. 4:1; 42:2; 54:2; 119:145; 141:2; 142:2 Is. 53:12Dan. 2:18; 610; Zech. 10:1 Tob. 3:1, 11; 12:8  Judith 4:12; 6:18, 21; 9:1; 13:7  Wis. 18:22  Eccles. 2:10; 18:22; 35:17;3 7:15; 51:19  Bar. 2:14  Dan 13:42 2 Macc. 6:30; 15:27  S. Matt. 5:44; 6:5, 9; 7:7; 14:23; 17:20  S. Luke 6:12; 18:1; 21:36; 22:33; 23:34  Acts 1:14; 7:59; 9:3, 4, 40; 10:4  Rom. 1:9; 12:13; Col. 4:2 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Tim. 2:1; S. James 1:5; 5:15; 16 l.

That we must first prepare our life, if we would have our prayers efficacious: Ps. 145:19  Is. 38:2; 58:9  Jon. 3:5 Ecclus. 18:23; 35:1, 17 f; Ecclus 38:10.

That the thoughts of this world ought to be banished when we pray: Gen. 15:11 S. Matt. 6:6; 14:23; S. Mark 6:46; S. Luke 5:16, 18;S. John 2:15.

What we ought to pray for: Josh. 15:19; Ruth 4:11; Prov. 30:7Tob. 4:19 Ecclus. 38:9; S. Matt. 6:33; 24:20; 26:44 S. Mark 14:39; S. Luke 6:12; 21:36  S. John 16:33  Rom. 8:26  1 Cor. 1:2  1 Thess. 5:17 S. James 1:5.

That we must add tears to our prayers: 1 Sam. 1:10  Ps. 102:9  Is. 38:5  Tob. 3:10, 11 12:8.

Of perseverance in prayer: 2 Chron. 20:3  Judith 4:9, 13  S. Luke 6:12; 18:1  Eph. 6:18  Col. 4:2  1 Thess. 5:17 1 Tim. 2:8  S. James 5:16 l.

That it is advantageous to pray for others: Ex. 8:9, 29; 10:17; 17:11  Ps. 106:23  S. Matt. 15:23  S. Luke 4:38  Eph. 6:18, 19  S. James 5:14, 16, 17.

That GOD does not regard the supplications of sinners: Judg. 2:18; 10:10, 13  Job 8:13Prov. 1:27; 15:29; 21:31; 28:9  Is. 1:15  Jer. 11:11; Ezek. 7:25; 8:18  Hos. 5:6 Mic. 3:4  Ecclus. 34:26  S. Matt. 7:21  S. James 4:2.

That GOD answers speedily: Gen. 27:27  2 Sam. 12:13  Ps. 10:18; 32:5; 33:17; 34:17  Is. 65:24  Wis. 6:13 S. Luke 15:22.

That GOD gives more than we ask: 1 Kings 3:13  S. Matt. 6:33; 9:2  S. Luke 1:63  2 Cor. 9:10.

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Divine Armoury of Holy Scripture on Prayer

Posted by carmelcutthroat on October 14, 2022

The following is a list of passages dealing with the subject of prayer. It is reproduced here from The Divine Armoury of Holy Scripture [VAUGHAN, KENELM, The Divine Armory of Holy Scripture, Catholic Book Exchange, Public Domain 1894 The American Edition Revised.]


Ps 37:7; Jam 1:5–7; Ps 34:16, 18; Mt 26:44; 2 Tim 1:11; Mt 21:22; 1 Tim 4:4–5; Jer 3:22; Dan 9:3, 17; Sir 37:19; Sir 20:1; Mt 18:19–20; Lk 19:2; Bar 3:1, 3; 1 J 5:14–15; Job 22:27; 1 K 2:3; 1 Sam 12:23; Ps 135:14; Is 62:6–7; Is 43:7; Ps 119:147; Ps 60:10; Ps 145:18; Sir 2:12; Sir 3:4; Sir 7:10; Sir 17:22; Lk 18:1–2; Lk 18:2–3; Lk 18:4–5; Lk 18:6–8.


Jer 29:12–13; Sir 18:23; Jer 33:3; 1 Tim 2:8; 1 Chron 16:11, 35; Is 55:6; Lam 3:41; Lk 18:1; Rom 8:26; Mt 26:41; Mt 6:9; Mk 14:38.


Lam 3:44; 1 J 3:21–22; Jb 11:13–15; Jb 27:8–9; Jn 9:31; Jn 15:7; Prov 28:9; Sir 35:20; Prov 15:29; Ps 66:18; Ps 145:19.


Wis 1:1–2; Jam 1:5–7; Mk 11:24; Ps 38:15; Jer 17:17.


Jud 9:16; Sir 35:21; Mt 6:5–6; Mt 15:8; 1 Chron 14:15; Jn 4:24; Jd 4:11; Lk 18:1; Sir 18:22; 1 Tim 5:17; Col 4:2; Eph 6:17–19.


Jn 14:13; Jn 16:23–24; 1 Jn 5:14; Lk 11:13; Mt 9:37–38.


1 Tim 2:1–2; Prov 21:1; Col 4:3–4; 1 Jn 5:16; Jam 5:16; Jer 29:7.


Wis 16:28; Ps 5:5; Jam 5:13; Ps 4:505; Lam 2:19; Ps 63:1–2; Ps 63:7–8; Ps 119:62; Ps 119:164; Dan 6:10; Act 2:42; Act 3:1; Act 10:9; Act 12:5; Act 20:36.


Heb 4:16; Sir 13:18; Lam 2:18–19; Prov 16:3; Ps 36:5; Mt 7:7–8; Phil 4:6; Job 4:20; Jer 33:3.


Is 30:19; Is 65:24; De 4:7; Sir 2:12; Ac 10:4; 1 Sam 12:23.


Jam 4:3; Prov 1:28–29; Prov 21:13; Prov 28:9; Job 1:6; 2 Chron 7:14; 2 Macc 9:13; 1 Sam 8:18; Mic 3:4; Job 12:8–9.


Is 57:19; 1 Sam 1:18; So 3:9; Zech 12:10; Ex 34:29; Job 12:12, 14; Gen 25:21; Gen 32:28–29; 2 Macc 14:15; 2 Macc 15:26–27; Lk 1:13; Act 27:23–24; Act 4:31; Act 16:25, 26; Act 28:8.

Example of Prayer:

(1)      Our Lord Passed nights in Prayer. Lk 6:12
(2)      Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Act 1:14
(3)      St. Peter. Act 9:40
(4)      St. paul. Act 28:8
(5)      St. Stephen. Act 7:59
(6)      St. Zachary. Lk 1:13
(7)      St. Ananias. Act 9:10
(8)      St.Cornelius. Act 10:4
(9)      St. Abraham. Gen 15:2
(10)      St. Isaac. Gen 25:21
(11)      St. Moses. Ex 14:15
(12)      St. Gideon. Jg 6:30
(13)      St. Anna. 1 Sam 1:10
(14)      St. Samual. 1 K 7:5
(15)      St. David. 1 Sam 23:10
(16)      St. Elias. 1 Kings 18:36
(17)      St. Eliseus. 2 Kings 6:18
(18)      St. Isaias. 2 Kings 20:11
(19)      St. Tobias. Job 3:1
(20)      St. Jeremias. 2 Macc 15:14
(21)      St. Baruch. Bar 1:17
(22)      St. Daniel. Dan 9:3
(23)      SS. Ananias, Misael, and Azarias. Dan 2:18
(24)      St. Habacuc. Hab 3:1
(25)      Lot. Gen 19:20
(26)      Abraham’s Servant. Gen 24:12
(27)      Jacob. Gen 32:11
(28)      Manue. Jg 13:8
(29)      Samson. Jg 15:18
(30)      Solomon. 1 Kings 3:7
(31)      Banaias. 1 Kings 1:36
(32)      Jabes. 1 Chron 4:10
(33)      Abia’s Army. 2 Chron 13:14
(34)      Asa. 2 Chron 14:11
(35)      Josaphat. 2 Chron 18:31
(36)      Joachaz. 2 Kings 13:4
(37)      Ezechias. 2 Kings 19:15
(38)      Manasses. 2 Chron 33:12
(39)      Nehemias. Neh 1:4
(40)      Jesus, the son of Sirach. Sir 23:1
(41)      The Priests. 2 Chron 30:27
(42)      The Children of Israel. Jg 2:23
(43)      The Holy Catholic Church. Acts 12:5

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A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 23

Posted by carmelcutthroat on October 13, 2022

TITLE. A Psalm of David.


ARG. THOMAS. That CHRIST prepares for His Church eternal pastures. Before Baptism. The voice of the Church after Baptism. To be read with Esther.1
VEN. BEDE. Through the whole Psalm the Christian regenerate in Baptism speaks, and renders thanks that he has been brought from the barrenness of sin into a green pasture and the still waters. And notice that, as before, in Psalm 15, he had received the Decalogue of the Law, thus he here rejoices in ten blessings.
EUSEBIUS OF CÆSAREA. The doctrine and the first institution of the new people.
S. ATHANASIUS. A Psalm of boasting in the LORD.


Gregorian. [Corpus Christi: The table of the LORD is prepared for us against all them that trouble us. Office of the Dead: He shall feed me in a green pasture.]
Monastic. The LORD governs me, and nought shall be lacking to me: He set me there in a place of pasture.
Ambrosian. My GOD, My GOD, look upon me. K. K. K.
Mozarabic. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou GOD art with me.


1 The LORD is my shepherd: therefore can I lack nothing.

In the last Psalm we heard of the Passion of CHRIST:* now we hear of the effects of that Passion. It was because He stood in need of everything, that we lack nothing. And take it either way, both are beautiful: The Lord is my Shepherd, so our version; The Lord governs me, so the Vulgate. And think of the Psalm first of all as uttered by David long before his combat with Goliath, “as he was following the ewes great with young ones.” What he then said in the ignorance and simplicity of his pastoral life, that he found true through his persecutions, through his wars, through all his troubles to the very end. These are nearly the first words of David: and among the last words of David are, “Yet hath He made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.” But it is in two different ways that those two different families—the “travellers,” to use the mediæval expression, (D. C.) and “they that have comprehended,”—are to use this verse. Our Shepherd—we, the travellers—our Shepherd putteth forth His own sheep into all kinds of dangers, by the lions’ dens, by the mountains of the leopards; and though wherever He putteth them forth, He Himself, according to His own most sweet promise, has been before them, yet they have to wander in wastes and wilds, far away from the comfort and safeguard of any visible fold. But with them the more beautiful flocks that feed upon the celestial mountains, the LORD is their Shepherd too: He has brought them home from the danger of wild beasts, as it is written, “No lion shall be there, neither shall any ravenous beast go up thereon:”* He has brought them out of the very sound of their voices; He has brought them into that fold,* not one of the stakes whereof shall ever be removed. And yet both they and we may say, (L.) The Lord is my Shepherd. The Shepherd delivers us continually from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear; the Shepherd King feeds them for evermore in pastures, of which the human heart cannot conceive the beauty. Therefore can I lack nothing. Because that Shepherd lacked everything; because He had not where to lay His head; because there was no room for Him in the inn; because He sat thirsty on the well; because He was taken even as He was in the ship; because He was an hungered in the wilderness; therefore shall we lack nothing,—His need supplying our wants,* as His righteousness atones for our guilt. “What can GOD deny us, when He has given us His own SON? asks S. Paul: and what can the SON of GOD deny us, when He gives us Himself? He gives us His Body, He gives us His Soul, He gives us His Divinity, and will He deny us bread? Oh, fear and cowardice, unworthy of faith! GOD had not as yet given Himself to be our food, and had only revealed this mystery to the same David, who had so often suffered from poverty, and at once He scoffs at it, and says for us that which we knew not how to say for ourselves. And what is that? The Lord is my Shepherd: therefore can I lack nothing. One thing follows the other. The rich shall fall into want, they who put their confidence in inconstant possessions, to-day possessed, to-morrow lost; but the poor who betakes himself to that LORD, Who is LORD of all things, shall have enough and to spare, as saith the same Prophet, ‘The rich men do lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the LORD shall not want anything that is good.’ ”

2 He shall feed me in a green pasture: and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort.

“Come unto Me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.” And with what refreshment?* The green pasture: the waters of comfort. In its widest and broadest sense, the green pasture is the Church. Green, as constantly refreshed with the dew of the HOLY GHOST: green, as shaded from the burning sun of temptation. And notice how it follows,* “There was much green grass in the place: so the men sat down,”* There we have the freshness and verdure of—there also we have the rest to be found in—the Church, But the greater number of the Fathers refer this Psalm altogether to the Sacraments. The waters of comfort, therefore, are the waters of Baptism; just as presently we shall find the oil to be Confirmation, and the cup to be the Blessed Eucharist. But Rupert takes these* waters of comfort to be the rivers of pleasure which are at GOD’s right hand; of comfort imperishable, unchangeable, eternal. Lysimachus deplored that for a draught of water he had lost a kingdom: whoso drinketh of this water,* which proceedeth from the throne of GOD and of the Lamb, (L.) shall reign for ever and ever. And these waters of comfort were purchased for us by that bitter cry of our LORD on the Cross, “I thirst.” Therefore, because of that thirst,* ye shall draw water with joy out of the wells of salvation. And these wells or fountains, S. Bernard says, are five in number:* four belonging to the earthly paradise, the four wounds of our LORD while yet living in the flesh: the fifth, which pertains to the celestial land, the wound inflicted on His side. And they beautifully interpret, of these fountains, that which is said in Genesis of the four rivers of Eden. The first “compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold, and the gold of that land is good.” Havilah is by interpretation,* “He that suffers pain;” and by means of the wound in our LORD’s right hand, the gold produced by the region of pain will be good indeed. The second encompassed the whole land of Ethiopia; that land which originally lay under a curse; as the wound of our LORD’s left hand may be said to have turned the curse arising from the sin of man—the left hand being the type of sin—into a blessing: and so of the rest. Mediæval writers rejoiced to heap together all the characteristics, real or feigned, of various rivers: of the Cephissus, which makes the fleece of black sheep white: of the Xanthus, which turns them red; and so on. There are not wanting those who understand the waters of comfort of Holy Scripture: (D. C.) and quote appositely that saying of S. Paul’s, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our consolation.”*

3 He shall convert my soul: and bring me forth in the paths of righteousness, for His Name’s sake.

And now notice how admirably the miracle of the passage of Jordan figures the effect of Baptism; (G.) its savour of life unto life, and of death unto death. That part which remained nearest to the fountain head “rose up on an heap,”—that is, those who remain true to their LORD in Baptism are drawn up towards heaven: that part which ran into the Dead Sea “failed and was cut off,” having no more connection with the original source of the stream, (G.) but utterly lost in those dark and noisome waters. And notice also how admirably the usual course of GOD’s dealing with a Christian soul is here set forth. In the last verse we have Baptism: we are to understand the usual sad falls after Baptism. And then it follows, He shall convert my soul. Never let us be afraid, because the word has been so sadly misused and misapplied, to dwell boldly on this truth, and to enjoin it with all our might,—that in most instances a second grace is necessary after that of Baptism has been given and has been abused. And then, when this grace of conversion has been given, and has been received and acted upon, (L.) then He shall lead us forth in the paths of righteousness. Others see in this verse an admirable declaration of the blessings of the New Covenant. When the waters of comfort had once been opened, then the servants of GOD should be led forth in the paths of righteousness: for before the institution of that blessed Sacrament, the greatest Saints were only led forth in the paths of the ceremonial law. I cannot do better than quote the admirable words of Lorinus on the subject: “They,” says he, “were led forth in the paths of ceremonies,* carnal commandments, the works of the law; which could not justify,* and made nothing perfect.* ‘But in His days,’ says David,* ‘shall righteousness flourish:’ He,* namely, Who is the LORD our Righteousness;* the Righteous Man Who is raised up from the east;* the Righteous Man Whom the ‘clouds rain down;’* Who is made righteousness to us; Who came to teach us righteousness; Who Himself fulfilleth all righteousness; Who goeth in the way of righteousness; Who, finally, alone justifies and leads to blessedness them who walk according to the laws that He has prescribed to them, and teaches the Divine knowledge of the things which have to be believed as well as done.* These are the ‘ways of wisdom,’ of which Solomon speaks; these are the ‘right paths’ to which he invites.” For His Name’s sake. And here once more is the Name that is above every name; the Name, “great, wonderful, and holy,” which is to be the strength of GOD’s people here, and the everlasting subject of their praise hereafter.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me.

Here we have the reason why this Psalm is one of those employed in the Office for the Dead. And see how beautifully the whole corresponds to it. The grave, the fold, in which the LORD’s sheep are penned safely till the morning of the Resurrection. And the Shepherd Himself had tasted of the same trials which He permits His sheep to know. The green pasture will be, as ancient Liturgies so often make it, the state of blessed souls, that have departed out of this world, but have not yet been admitted to the Beatific Vision. “They have departed,” says James of Edessa,* in his Liturgy, “with true hope, and the confidence of the faith which is in Thee, from this world of straits, from this life of misery, to Thee. Remember them and receive them, and cause them to rest in the bosom of Abraham, in tabernacles of light and rest, in shining dwelling-places, in a world of pleasures, in the city Jerusalem, where there is no place for sorrow or for war.” “They have been set free,” says Ignatius BarMaadn,* of Antioch, “they have been set free from this temporal life, according to the sentence constituted by their iniquity, and have returned to Thee, O GOD, as to the first Almighty cause. Spare them by Thy mercy; reckon them in the number of Thine elect; cover them with the bright cloud of Thy saints; cause them to dwell in the blessed habitations of Thy kingdom; to be invited to Thy banquet in the region of exultation and joy, where there is no place of sorrow or misery.” Then the “convert my soul” must be taken of that final conversion, when sin snail be destroyed for ever, as it is written, “He that is dead is freed from sin.”* “The paths of righteousness,” what are they but those streets of gold, of which it is written, “The nations of them which are saved shall walk in it?”* The table will be at the eternal wedding feast; and then how does the “All the days of my life,” and “I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever,” rivet the Psalm as it were to this, as its natural meaning! But to return to our verse. Why the valley of the shadow of death? What Eusebius taught long ago,* let Laud on the scaffold explain at greater length: “LORD, I am coming as fast as I can. I know I must pass through the shadow of death before I can come to see Thee. But it is but umbra mortis, a shadow of death, a little darkness upon nature; but Thou, LORD, by Thy goodness, hast broken the jaws and the power of death.” Yes: our LORD passed through the valley of death; (A.) we through the valley of the shadow of death. He tasted of death, that we might never taste of it; He died, that we might fall asleep. Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me. Holy men have discussed at length what is the difference between these two. Some will have it that the rod denotes GOD’s punishments for lighter offences; (R.) the staff, (B.) His chastisements for heavier sins. But it is better to take the one of His punishment when we go wrong, (Lu.) the other of His support when we go right. Thus they will answer to the wine and the oil in the parable of the Good Samaritan;* the wine the salutary chastisement, the oil the no less salutary comfort. But there is yet a deeper meaning in it than this: the rod and the staff together make the blessed Cross;* just as the two sticks that the widow was gathering have always been considered typical of the same tree of salvation. And it may well be said that, (Z.) in our valley of the shadow of death,* that Cross is to be our comfort on which our LORD passed through His own valley of misery. For notice how the two join together: For Thou art with me—“I determined to know nothing among you save JESUS CHRIST”—Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me—“and Him crucified.”* There are other beautiful significations for these words. Some will have the rod to signify the Incarnation:* (“There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse:”) and by the staff the Passion: as if, in our passage through death, we require both the one and the other to console us; according to that saying,* “Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to praise Thee.” And yet once more: still taking the staff for the Cross, we may understand the rod of the Virgin Mother, here joined with the Cross itself, because it is written. “Now there stood by the Cross of JESUS His mother.” Once more: Dionysius regards the verse as the thanksgiving of the blessed for the loving kindness which has led them through all the dangers and miseries of this world; and thus beautifully writes: (D. C.) “The rod and the staff with which in the Way Thou didst visit me, have brought me to this celestial consolation. For corrections inflicted for sin, here spoken of under the name of the rod, so purify the soul, as to unite it to the Divine light. And the glorious consolations, bestowed by GOD upon earth, enkindle the soul to desire the perfect sweetness of their country. But it might seem that this verse cannot apply to the blessed, because it implies their remembering in Paradise what they suffered on earth; whereas it is written in Isaiah,* ‘The former troubles shall be forgotten, shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.’ We answer that the Saints in their country do remember the ills which they suffered in their journey,* in so far as such a remembrance is to them a matter of joy. For CHRIST in His most glorious Body has retained the marks of His Five Wounds, not only that in the Day of Judgment He may manifest to the ungrateful that which He suffered for them, but that the Saints in their country may for ever behold that which He endured for their salvation, and by this means may be inflamed with inestimable praise and giving of thanks.”

5 Thou shalt prepare a table before me against them that trouble me: thou hast anointed my head with oil, and my cup shall be full.

By far the greater number of commentators take it—and how could it be otherwise?—of the Blessed Eucharist. “This is the table,” (Z.) says S. Cyril, (C.) in his Catechetical Lectures, (B.) “prepared by GOD,* in opposition to the table prepared before him by Satan;” clearly meaning that,* before the Advent of CHRIST, the enticements and allurements of Satan to sin were, so to speak, a table of poisonous delicacies, to which there was then no such remedy as the table of the LORD. S. Cyprian and the Bishops assembled with him at one of the Councils of Carthage, exhort all those who were likely to be called to suffer martyrdom to prepare themselves for it by the reception of the Holy Eucharist.* “Those whom we excite,” says the Synodal letter, “and exhort to the battle, let us not leave weak and unarmed, but let us fortify with the protection of the Body and Blood of CHRIST. And since the Eucharist is celebrated to this end, that it may be a safeguard to them who receive it, let us arm with the defence of the LORD’s banquet those whom we desire to make safe against the adversary.” Then the sense of against them that trouble me may be threefold. Either in opposition to their wishes, and in defiance of their endeavours; or that we by receiving it may be strengthened in opposition to them; or that they, beholding the delicacies GOD provides for us, may be the more enraged and thrown into despair. They give multitudes of instances in which the reception of the Blessed Sacrament has at once set free from some particular temptation; like the story related of S. Macarius, who delivered one who was possessed by a devil,* and told her that the reason of the demon acquiring that power over her was her having abstained for so long a time from receiving.
Nevertheless, there are not wanting those who understand this table of Holy Scripture: as Bede,* S. Jerome, and Peter of Blois. Others, again, take it of the remembrance of the LORD’s Passion; but the most singular interpretation is that of S. Remigius, who takes the table to refer to the rod and the staff mentioned just before, as if David said, Whatever other consolation I might have looked for, Thou hast prepared this; the chastisement that for the present seemeth not joyous, but grievous, but afterwards yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness, which fruit is here called the table. Gerhohus, after dwelling on the blessedness of the Holy Eucharist, well concludes by quoting the prayer ascribed to S. Ambrose: “I pray Thee, O LORD, by that holy and quickening mystery of Thy Body and Blood, by which we are daily fed in Thy Church, of which we are daily given to drink, by which we are cleansed and sanctified, and made partakers of Thy Divinity, give me Thy holy virtues, filled with which I may approach to Thine altar, so that these celestial Sacraments may be to me salvation and life. For Thou hast said,* by Thy holy and blessed mouth, ‘The bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven: if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever.’ O most sweet Bread, heal the taste of my heart, that I may perceive the sweetness of Thy love; cleanse it from all languor, that I may be conscious of no sweetness but Thine. O most pure Bread, having all delight in Thyself, which always refreshest us and never failest, let my heart feed upon Thee, and let the very innermost parts of my soul be filled with Thy sweetness.” And then he tells us how the Chaldæans still make out three bands against us:* the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; and how each and all of these are to be repulsed by the Sacrament.
Thou hast anointed my head with oil. And here again the commentators devise all sorts of explanations, as indeed Holy Scripture itself invites them to do. But the best and truest seems to be that which sees in this oil both royal and priestly unction: according to that saying,* “Thou hast made us unto our GOD kings and priests;” and again, “ye are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.” Others again, (Z.) not unfitly,* understand it of Confirmation: which indeed suits well with the mention of Baptism in the second verse,* and also that of the Blessed Eucharist in this. Or mystically: it is the boast of every Christian,—“Thou anointest my head with oil.” For so S. Bernard understands that command,—Thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head. For what is our Head but our Blessed LORD and SAVIOUR? and what is oil but the graces of the HOLY GHOST, That SPIRIT not given by measure unto Him? And there may also be a reference to the unction of our LORD by the hands of S. Mary Magdalene.
And my cup shall be full. Or, as it is in the Vulgate: (L.) And my inebriating chalice, how excellent it is!* And here again we see that glorious and excellent chalice,* filled, not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with the precious Blood of CHRIST, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot. And S. Cyprian even uses this verse as an argument against the Aquarii, who used water in the oblation: “for how can water,” says he,* “inebriate?” “With this cup,” cries Augustine, “were the martyrs inebriated, when, going forth to their passion, they recognised not those that belonged to them,—not their weeping wife, not their children, not their relations: while they gave thanks and said, (A.) I will take the Cup of salvation!”

Ave,* sacer CHRISTI Sanguis!
Iter nobis rectum pandis
Ad cœli sedilia!

Ave, potus salutaris!
Nullus unquam fuit talis
Bonitatis copiâ!

6 But thy loving-kindness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

And here, as the conclusion of this Psalm of graces, (Ay.) comes the last and highest of all graces, that of final perseverance: the end and result of all the Sacraments. I will dwell in the house of the Lord. It may be taken in two senses: (P.) the religious as opposed to the secular life here; or the true life, the life that is life indeed, in the true house of the LORD hereafter. But why is it said, shall follow me, rather than, (Z.) shall go before me? For certainly we need that preventing grace of GOD, for which the Church prays, to remove obstacles, to face dangers, to overthrow difficulties. Because, say the Greek Fathers, the idea is that, though we of our own will and nature would forsake and forget GOD, (L.) He sends out after us, follows us, chases us, as it were, till He overtake us, and seizes us for Himself. We need not here enter into the disputes of the schools about prevenient, subsequent, co-operating, concomitant, grace. It suffices us to know what David so often declares, and the celebrated Council of Orange teaches from his words, that we need grace on every side, grace before and behind, grace on the right hand and on the left, if we ever hope to enter the kingdom of GOD at all. Prevenient and subsequent grace are beautifully set forth in the Canticles: when the Bride first says, “My Beloved is mine, and I am His,” and then, “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.” The former being signified by the first verse, (D. C.) the latter by the second. That I may dwell: there we have the heavenly home-sickness; S. Paul’s desire to depart and to be with CHRIST, which is far better; the change of the light of grace, here often clouded and obscure, for the light of glory that can never be darkened, that can never fade away, that grows brighter and more perfect to ages of ages.*

Nos ad sanctorum gloriam
Per ipsorum suffragia
Post præsentem miseriam
CHRISTI perducat gratia!

And therefore:
Glory be to the FATHER, Who anoints our head with oil; and to the SON, the Shepherd of His people: and to the HOLY GHOST, Who provides for us that inebriating chalice which is so excellent.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.


Gregorian. Ferial: formerly Sunday, now Thursday: Prime. [Corpus Christi: II. Nocturn. Office of the Dead: II. Nocturn.]
Monastic. Thursday: Sunday: I. Nocturn.
Parisian. Thursday: Sexts.
Lyons. Wednesday: Sexts.
Ambrosian. Tuesday of the First Week: II. Nocturn.
Quignon. Monday: Prime.


Govern us,* O LORD, with the sweet yoke of Thy commandments, that we may obtain a place in Thine eternal habitation, and be satiated with the plenitude of the celestial banquet. (1.)
Grant,* O LORD, that we may sing a new hymn to Thy praise, to the end that Thou mayest bring us into the pastures of life, and lead us by the still waters of comfort; that we may never hunger nor thirst again, when our feet shall stand within the gates of Jerusalem. (11.)
Lead forth,* O LORD, Thy people by the waters of comfort which Thou hast formed by the baptismal streams; that they, inspired by the teaching of Thy law, may have their desire set on that place where Thou promisest Thyself to be their eternal reward. (11.)
[For Thy Name’s sake, (D. C.) O LORD, lead us in the paths of righteousness, let Thy mercy follow us, that we may dwell in Thy house for ever. Through (1.)]

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Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 72

Posted by carmelcutthroat on October 13, 2022


TITLE: A Psalm for [or of] Solomon. LXX. and Vulgate: For Solomon; a Psalm of David. Chaldee Targum: By the hand of Solomon, uttered prophetically.


ARG. THOMAS. That CHRIST, having brought the slanderer low, is to be adored by all kings of the earth. The Voice of the Church concerning CHRIST. The Voice of the Church concerning CHRIST to the FATHER.
VEN. BEDE. Solomon is interpreted Peaceful, signifying CHRIST the LORD, of Whom it is said, Of His dominion and peace there shall be no end. Throughout the Psalm the Prophet speaks, foretelling the Advent of CHRIST. In the first part he addresses the FATHER, asking for the SON judgment to judge the nations, which thing, however, he knew to be predestined before the world, Give the King Thy judgments, O God. In the second place, he declares that the children of the poor shall be saved in the judgment of the LORD, and the pride of the devil be humbled; and also explains in parables the child-bearing of the Virgin. He shall keep the simple folk by their right. Thirdly, he narrates the blessings which are to come when CHRIST the LORD is born of the HOLY GHOST and the Virgin Mary. In His time shall the righteous flourish. Fourthly, he says He is to be worshipped by all kings, because He hath redeemed mankind from the power of the devil. All kings shall fall down before Him. In the fifth place he declares that CHRIST, made visible to human eyes, hath been the defence of believers, and without doubt the profit of the righteous. He shall live, and unto Him shall be given of the gold of Arabia. Sixthly, he affirms that praise is to be given by the assent of the whole world to the everlasting LORD. His Name shall remain under the sun. In the seventh place, he offers, with purest devotion, a hymn to CHRIST. Blessed be the LORD God, even the God of Israel: which only doeth wondrous things.
SYRIAC PSALTER. Of David, when he made Solomon king, and a prophecy of the Coming of CHRIST and the calling of the Gentiles.
EUSEBIUS OF CÆSAREA. A prophecy of the kingdom of CHRIST and the calling of the Gentiles.
S. ATHANASIUS. A psalm of prophecy. Hortatory to endurance.


Gregorian. Ferial. Be Thou * my protecting GOD. [Maundy Thursday. O my GOD * deliver me out of the hand of the ungodly.]
Monastic. Ferial. Thou art my helper and redeemer * O LORD, make no long tarrying. [Maundy Thursday. As Gregorian.]
Parisian. O my GOD * deliver me out of the hand of the ungodly, for Thou art my patience.
Ambrosian. As Psalm 69.


1 Give the king thy judgments, O GOD: and thy righteousness unto the king’s son.

The Psalmist, (A.) observes S. Augustine, does but foreshow that saying of the LORD in the Gospel, “The FATHER judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the SON.”* And note that CHRIST is styled both King, and King’s Son. He is King, (Z.) in that He is Very GOD from all eternity; He is the King’s SON, (L.) in that His Godhead is derived from the FATHER, Whose Only-begotten He is. And He is the King’s Son in another sense, (D. C.) in that by His Manhood He is of the house and lineage of David. The two members of the verse are, (A.) according to some commentators, only the same idea, restated for the sake of emphasis and variety, as in Ps. 2:4, and Ps. 19:1. Rather let us say, (Ay.) with Gerhohus, (G.) that it is a prayer to Him Who sometimes suffers unrighteous men to bear rule, and Who permits a Pilate to condemn the innocent, that He will make His SON judge in equity, and with righteous judgment. That He should do so was typified by the names of those who set the crown on Solomon’s head—Zadok, the “righteous,” and Nathan, “the giver,”—telling us of that righteousness which is not of the works of the Law, but of faith, given freely through grace from above.

2 Then shall he judge thy people according unto right: and defend the poor.

The Bible Version is here more in accord with the LXX. and Vulgate, (G.) and it runs, He shall judge Thy people with righteousness, and Thy poor with judgment. Thy people, he says, Thy poor, as he has already said Thy judgment and Thy righteousness, that he may dwell on the perfect harmony of will, the co-equal majesty of the SON with the FATHER, even as He Himself hath said,* “All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine.” They have been His from all eternity as GOD; they are to be given to Him anew as Man. And whereas the Psalmist expresses CHRIST’S jurisdiction in two ways, (Ay.) so there is a double judgment, that of separation, whereby He parts the lowly from the proud; His people from aliens, even in this world; and that of doom, finally determining the lot of each according to his works. Thy poor. That is, (D. C.) the poor in spirit, who are blessed; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.* The world and the devil have their poor too—the miser, the arrogant,* the thief, the covetous, poor against his will. Thy poor. And we may take it of all Christians, but especially of the Apostles, (P.) who left all to follow CHRIST, and who shall sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Thus Thy people and Thy poor will in truth mean the same Church Militant, (A.) but distinguished into the general body of the faithful people,* and those voluntary poor who follow counsels of perfection. Wisely they, knowing how Holy Scripture again and again dwells on their blessedness, (L.) and on the danger of riches. Wherefore S. Peter Chrysologus says very well: “In heaven the first harvest is that of the hungry, the first payments in heaven are to the poor,* the dole of the needy is the first entry in the daily books of GOD.” Yet another interpretation explains the people of the Jewish, (Z.) the poor of the Gentile Church.

3 The mountains also shall bring peace: and the little hills righteousness unto the people.

By the mountains, (C.) observes Cassiodorus, are denoted the Apostles and Prophets, who preach the gospel of peace, that is, of CHRIST, the Prince of Peace, to the nations; and the hills denote the lesser saints, who have not attained the same heights of Divine grace, but who yet declare righteousness, by announcing the precepts of the LORD to the earth. Others interpret the mountains of the Angels, (Ay.) who brought, at the Nativity, the tidings of peace on earth, to men of good will; and explain the hills of earthly teachers.* Or, with Theodoret, we may take the mountains to denote the religious who withdrew from the world to such shelters. Yet, (Cd.) again, the mountains denote the authorities of the Church, to whom is committed the ministry of reconciliation, to establish peace between GOD and man; while the hills are the flock, (A.) who are bound to show righteousness by holy obedience to the Divine commands. And thus it will be the especial duty of the rulers, who have charge of peace, (R.) to prevent all schisms in the Church, that it may be One; and that of the hearers to be zealous in good works of righteousness, that it may be Holy. And these two things cannot be parted in CHRIST’S kingdom, (C.) for it is written, “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”*

4 He shall keep the simple folk by their right: defend the children of the poor, and punish the wrong-doer.

Rather, with A. V., LXX., and Vulgate, He shall judge the poor of the people. The greater number of the commentators take this as little more than a restatement of the second verse, and they explain the words the poor of the people as denoting all truly humble Christians. And they carry on this interpretation to the next clause. For, observes S. Augustine, (A.) the poor and the children of the poor mean the same persons, just as the same city is called Sion, and the daughter of Sion. Gerhohus, more happily, applies the varying language to the altered state of the Church. GOD, (G.) he says, protects and defends His people now, as He did in the days of the Apostles, His true poor. We, their spiritual children, are inferior to them in all saintliness; but He does not therefore cast us out. JESUS took His chosen, perfect disciples unto a high mountain apart, and there disclosed to them the deepest mysteries of grace; but He did not the less descend into the plain, to give there His instruction to the people. Euthymius, on the other hand, (Z.) explains the poor of the people to be those Jews who, clinging to the letter of the Law, rejected the rich Gospel message, and were judged accordingly. But the children of those poor, whom GOD defends (or, as the Vulgate, will save,) are such as have sought the Christian fold, and gained therein wealth, which their fathers, poor in faith and piety, and in the knowledge of GOD, never enjoyed. And punish the wrong-doer. The LXX. and Vulgate read, And humble the slanderer. They agree, for the most part, (A.) in explaining it of the devil, whom CHRIST humbled once when He made him fall as lightning from heaven; yet again, (C.) when He overcame him in the Temptation; most gloriously when, by His Resurrection, He bore from him the keys of death and hell. He will humble him again in the Judgment, (G.) by acquitting the saints from his accusations, and casting him down for ever. But the words have a further application, (D. C.) which comes out more fully in the A. V., And shall break in pieces the oppressor. Every tyrant, every persecutor of the righteous, every tempter of the Church, shall partake of the punishment of Antichrist, according to that saying, “He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.”*

5 They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endureth: from one generation to another.

It cannot be spoken of Solomon, remarks R. Kimchi, but must refer to the Messiah. How it refers to Him we may see in divers ways. The version before us, which is also that of S. Jerome and of the A. V., tells us of CHRIST as worshipped in the Church on earth, where “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” But it looks also forward to the manner in which He shall be served in heaven, when sun and moon have passed away, because “there is no fear in love,”* and His saints will then know the “perfect love which casteth out fear.”* S. Peter Damiani sings:

There nor waxing moon,* nor waning;
Sun, nor stars in courses bright;
For the Lamb to that glad City
Is the everlasting light:
There the daylight shines for ever,
And unknown are time and night.

The LXX. and Vulgate, (Ay.) however, read somewhat differently: And He shall abide with the sun, and before the moon. Where note, observes the Carmelite, that in CHRIST there is a twofold nature, Divine and human. He is simply eternal in that He is GOD; He is relatively eternal as Man. Moreover, the sun denotes all time, the moon all temporal things. And accordingly the sense is, He shall abide with the sun: that is, He shall abide according to His Manhood, so long as He will; to wit, in the Church by the Sacrament of His Body, as it is written, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”* This He says to confute those who allege that the Church or the Christian religion will ever cease to be. As respects His Godhead, it says before the moon. By the moon, which never abides in the same phase, we understand all creation, which is changeful. If then CHRIST abide before the moon, it follows that He abides before all creation, and thus is eternal, “JESUS CHRIST, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”* Again, by the sun we may understand GOD the FATHER, because He, as the Sun, hath glory coeval with Himself; and so too has the SON, Who is the “brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person,”* and therefore abides with the sun, beause He is coeternal with the FATHER as touching His Godhead. He also abides before the moon, by which we understand the Church, which shall pass through phases from mortal generations to the immortal one. And as He stands in sight of His Church, (G.) guarding it, so He abides before the moon. Once more, the words imply that the Church, tried by the prosperity of day and the adversity of night, will never be deserted by her LORD, Whose glory is her sun, Whose mild and pure life on earth is her moon. In that our Solomon dwelt among us in mortal and passible flesh, amidst many sorrows, He hath shown us the ways of patience, that we should “not be afraid for any terror by night, nor for the thing that walketh in darkness.”* And His Transfiguration on the Mount, when His Face shone as the sun, or rather His glory on the exalted throne of the FATHER’S Majesty, makes this world’s show and pomp mean in our eyes in the day of prosperity, that we be not hurt by “the arrow that flieth by day, nor for the sickness that destroyeth in the noon-day,”* so long as the bright and gladsome vision of faith and hope is present to our sight.

6 He shall come down like the rain into a fleece of wool: even as the drops that water the earth.

The earliest commentators, as Tertullian and Lactantius, explain these words of the silence and secrecy of the Advent.* It is spoken, observes S. Augustine, of CHRIST’S First Coming. For as Gideon laid a fleece on the ground, which alone received the dew, (A.) whilst the ground remained dry, so Israel was that fleece, alone bedewed in the midst of a parched world; as He said, “I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel;”* and again, speaking to His disciples, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”* And as the sign was reversed, when the ground was wet and the fleece dry, so here is added, even as the drops that water the earth, because the Jewish people remains dry of the grace of CHRIST, and the whole round world throughout all nations is being rained on by clouds full of Christian grace. So too Ruffinus, more tersely: “CHRIST is the rain,* Judea the fleece, the multitude of the nations the earth.” With him agree some others also. But the majority of commentators explain the words of the mystery of CHRIST’S Incarnation. “What is so silent and noiseless,” asks S. Ambrose, “as rain pouring on a fleece of wool? It strikes no ears with sound, it sprinkles nobody with spray; but, unnoticed by man, it draws into its whole substance all the rain which is diffused through its many parts.* It knows not any severance, because of the firm passage, permitting, as it does, many passages through its softness; and that which seemed closed by reason of its density is open because of its tenuity. Rightly, I say, is Mary compared to a fleece, who conceived the LORD in such wise as to drink Him in with all her body, and yet suffer no rending of that body; but showed herself soft in obedience, firm in holiness. Rightly, I say, is Mary compared to a fleece, since from her fruit the garments of salvation are woven for the peoples. Mary is truly a fleece, since from her soft bosom the Lamb came forth, Who Himself wearing His Mother’s wool, that is, the flesh, covers the wounds of all nations with soft fleece. For the wound of every sin is bandaged with CHRIST’S wool, is fomented with CHRIST’S Blood; and, that it may recover health, is covered with CHRIST’S raiment.”* And S. Bernard speaks in similar language of this mystery. He came therein, observes Ayguan, not in His mighty power, (Ay.) but in the gentleness of deep humility, as was foretold: “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, lowly.”* Noting which, the Psalmist says, He shall come down like the rain into a fleece—that is, gently and imperceptibly He will come down into the Virgin, because He shall come with all lowliness and meekness.* And the simile is apt, as the Gloss notes; for as wool is not hurt by receiving or yielding water, (L.) so in the glorious Virgin Mary virginity abode inviolate before, during, and after her childbearing. So too S. Peter Chrysologus: The fleece, though it is of the body, yet knows not the body’s passions; and so, when there is virginity in the flesh, it knows not the sins of the flesh.* Wherefore that heavenly rain came with gentle descent into the virgin fleece, and the whole tide of Godhead hid itself in the thirsty fleece of our flesh, till, wrung out upon the Cross, it poured forth in the rain of salvation over all the lands. And thus the Western Church, in the Antiphons for Lauds of the Circumcision and First Vespers of the Purification includes this, which Sarum carries through the year as a Memorial: “When Thou wast born of a Virgin ineffably, then were the Scriptures fulfilled; as the dew upon the fleece didst Thou descend to save mankind, we praise Thee, O our GOD.”* So, too, in many a hymn, as thus:

Frondem,* florem, nueem sicca
Virga profert, et pudica
Virgo Dei Filium.
Fert cœlestem vellus rorem,
Creatura Creatorem,
Creaturæ pretium.

And as the rain on the fleece stains not,* but purifies, violates not, but beautifies, so CHRIST, born of the Virgin, left her brighter, fairer, more perfect than before. There is, however, another interpretation of the word נֵּז, here, and in all the old versions, translated fleece. It literally means, “that which is shorn or clipped;” and the A. V., with most later critics, explains it, mown grass. It is then, remarks Cardinal de Vio, spoken of the Second Advent, when CHRIST comes after the hope and bud of this life has been cut down by the scythe of death, that He may cause it to spring up again in the aftermath of the Resurrection.* And whereas most other commentators follow S. Augustine in explaining the drops that water the earth of the spread of the Gospel amongst the nations, Cajetan takes this also of the renewal of the earth after the Judgment. Parez is another exception. He explains the ground wetted when the fleece was dry, (P.) of the Church, empurpled with the Blood drained from CHRIST’S Body on the Cross.

7 In his time shall the righteous flourish: yea, and abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth,

The LXX. and Vulgate read as the first clause, (Ay.) In His days shall righteousness arise. It is, says Ayguan, a prophecy of that first true preaching of perfect righteousness, when He spoke the Sermon on the Mount to His disciples. It is more, (G.) according to Gerhohus—even the righteousness which is of faith, whereby the righteous lives, and is reconciled to GOD. And abundance of peace. Not of temporal peace, for He hath not come to send it on earth, but a sword. It is the peace of GOD which passeth all understanding, peace between GOD and man, between spirit and flesh, between the Church Triumphant of Angels and the spirits of just men made perfect in the LORD, and the Church Militant in its sojourn amongst mortals. And of this peace the Easter hymn sings:

Triumphat ille splendide,*
Qui dignus amplitudine
Soli polique patriam
Unam facit rempublicam.

“Rightly is it called abundance of peace,”* exclaims Gilbert of Hoyland, “which is given without measure. How should it not be abundant which did away the offence, and heaped up the former grace? The first man in Paradise had peace, so that he could not be led away against his will; but he had no strength to will his return. He had grace that he need not go out; he had it not to come back at a wish. But now is peace more plenteous in the grace of CHRIST, which is freely offered after repeated transgressions, and rejects not, but recalls the penitents. Well is it named abundance of peace, which no wrong-doing can exhaust, (Cd.) which is ever more ready for pardon than for vengeance.” And therefore the first greeting He gave His disciples as He returned in triumph and glory from death was, “Peace be unto you;” denoting that, after He had laid the enemies of mankind low, had overcome death and harrowed hell, peace was the wage of His toils, the fruit of His Passion, the trophy of His Cross, the common gain of all. So an unknown poet sings:

Virgam pacis CHRISTUS portat,*
Qui nos regit et confortat
Manu sapientiæ;
Qui per virgam creat pacem,
Frangens virgam contumacem
Per virgam justitiæ.

Pax concordat malos bonis,
Per quam regnum Salomonis
Eleganter floruit;
De caminis Babylonis
Tres Hebræos cum coronis
Liberos eripuit.

So long as the moon endureth. More exactly, as in the margin of A. V., till there be no moon, with which agree the LXX. and Vulgate, till the moon be taken away. The moon is interpreted of the Church, which has no light save from the Sun of Righteousness, and is subject to incessant change and vicissitude here below. When the earthly Church shall vanish in the full light of the reappearing Sun,* then GOD shall be all in all. The Roman Psalter, S. Ambrose, Cassiodorus, (A.) and others read, till the moon be lifted up. That is, observes S. Augustine, till the Church be exalted, through the glory of the Resurrection, to reign with Him, (G.) the Firstborn from the dead, Who went before her in this glory, to sit at the right hand of the FATHER. Then she who is now “fair as the moon” shall be “clear as the sun.”* S. Chrysostom, somewhat differently, explains it to mean till the preaching of the Church be ended; the Church which is crescent in the good,* waning in the bad, but which at last shall be full in the saints, when the number of the predestined is filled up. There remains one very singular interpretation: the moon, (C.) as ruling the night, is explained by Procopius of Satan, (L.) the prince of the darkness of this world, whose light is cold and deceptive. And he notes that CHRIST suffered on the fourteenth day of the moon, when her brightness begins to wane, and is near to disappearing.

8 His dominion shall be also from the one sea to the other: and from the flood unto the world’s end.

The literal sense is from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, from the Euphrates to the Desert, denoting the wide scope of Solomon’s rule. It is next taken by all the commentators to denote the spread of CHRIST’S kingdom or earth. Then they come to the mystical sense. And first, (Ay.) from one sea to the other is explained of CHRIST’S coming forth from the hallowed womb of the Virgin Mary, who is the sea of glass, like unto crystal for purity and clearness before the throne of GOD, a sea into which all the rivers of grace empty themselves. Thence He comes to all penitent hearts, which are seas of bitter tears. And so Lope de Vega:

Ya, JESUS, mi corazon
No sabe mas de Ilorar,*
Que le ha convertido en mar
El mar de vuestra pasion.

This gives us another and finer idea for the first sea than that of Ayguan, while agreeing with him as to the second. Yet a third grouping may be found, by explaining the words of our LORD’S double sovereignty over earth and heaven; from the troublesome waves of this world, whereon His disciples are tossed in the ship of the Church, to that haven where

in the ocean of Thy love
We lose ourselves in heaven above.*

And from the flood unto the world’s end. They take the flood to be the River Jordan, (A.) where CHRIST’S ministry and preaching of the Gospel began, thence to spread over the whole earth. And it further denotes CHRIST’S especial rule over the baptized, whose spiritual life begins with the cleansing flood, and perseveres to the end of the world, because He is with them always till then.

9 They that dwell in the wilderness shall kneel before him: his enemies shall lick the dust.

The LXX., Vulgate, and Æthiopic Psalters read, (C.) The Ethiopians shall fall down before Him. The Ethiopians, says one, as clothed in coarse leathern garments, denote sinners laden with iniquity. Or, as another suggests,* those who are dark and black with sin. Others take it with equal literalness of the Queen of Sheba coming to Solomon, and of the conversion of Queen Candace at the preaching of her eunuch, followed by that of the king and a great part of the nation through the labours of S. Matthew. There is yet another explanation: the Ethiopians are said to be the devils, (Ay.) made subject to CHRIST by His victory on the Cross. (Z.) His enemies shall lick the dust. S. Clement of Alexandria aptly cites here the curse pronounced upon the serpent which deceived Eve,* and warns his readers against imitating the crafty being who,* as he grovels, seeks to bruise the heel of the just. Not dissimilar is the explanation that the words denote the low and earthly desires and aims of the ungodly. S. Augustine will have it to refer to heretics, (G.) loving mere human teachers, (A.) who are but dust, and not willing to hear the divine wisdom of the Church. It may, however, remarks Ayguan, (Ay.) be taken in a good sense also, that they who at first resisted CHRIST, shall at last become His true servants; as it is written, “The sons also of them that afflicted Thee shall come bending before Thee, and all they that despised Thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of Thy feet.”* Yet again, several take it of the Jews, literally because of the extremity of the famine in the siege under Titus,* when they were forced to devour all manner of filth;* and allegorically by reason of their mere earthly wisdom. Euthymius, (Z.) with a quaint exactness, interprets it of converts kissing the floors of churches, after the Eastern fashion.

10 The kings of Tharsis and of the isles shall give presents: the kings of Arabia and Saba shall bring gifts.

The words denote the universality of CHRIST’S Kingdom. (A.) And the first fulfilment of the prophecy must be sought in the adoration of the Magi, whose triple offering of gold, frankincense, and myrrh denotes the Godhead, Kingship, and Manhood of CHRIST. So Adam of S. Victor:

Tria dona reges ferunt:
Stella duce regem quærunt,*
Per quam semper certi erunt
De superno lumine,
Auro regem venerantes,
Thure Deum designantes,
Myrrhâ mortem memorautes,
Sacro docti flamine.

And as Arabia and Saba denote the far Eastern regions, so Tarshish and the isles point to the West, if we identify Tarshish with the Spanish Tartessus, as the isles most probably refer to the Archipelago. What rich treasures Spain and Saba (if Saba be Africa) shall bring to the feet of their King let Prudentius tell us:

Orbe de magno caput excitata,*
Obviam CHRISTO properanter ibit
Civitas quæque, pretiosa portans
Dona canistris.
Afra Carthago tua promet ossa,
Ore facundo Cypriane doctor:
Corduba Acisclum dabit et Zoellum
Tresque coronas.
Tu tribus gemmis diadema pulchrum
Offeres CHRISTO, genetrix piorum
Tarraco, intexit cui Fructuosus
Sutile vinclum.

And with this presentation of sacred relics agrees that remark of S. Augustine, (A.) that the kings are said to lead gifts, that is, to bring living victims, following them readily, to be offered to CHRIST. (C.) Cassiodorus, followed by many others, finds a mystical sense in the word Tharsis, which he interprets contemplation,1 and its kings will then be contemplative Saints; while the kings of the isles are those engaged in active life, surrounded by the sea of worldly cares, but rising above it firmly. He carries on the allegory to Arabia and Saba, which, as the lands of spices and perfumes, denote the temptations of the flesh; and their kings are the Saints who subdue them.

11 All kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall do him service.

We see not yet this prophecy fulfilled on earth, but in the Apocalyptic vision it has come to pass already in heaven. Kings shall fall down before Him, for it is written, “The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne.”* All nations do Him service; for again it is written, “I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our GOD which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.”* But the LXX. and Vulgate read, All kings of the earth. And we may take it literally of the subjection of the Roman Empire to the Faith by the conversion of Constantine, (Ay.) or of the royalty of Christians drawn into the Catholic Church from all nations, and now made kings by ruling over their passions and desires, and serving CHRIST with body, mind, and will.*

12 For he shall deliver the poor when he crieth: the needy also, and him that hath no helper.
13 He shall be favourable to the simple and needy: and shall preserve the souls of the poor.

The LXX. and Vulgate read, (G.) He shall deliver the poor from the mighty one. Thus it tells of Him that spoiled the strong man armed who kept the souls of men as his goods in the palace of this world. And him that hath no helper.* For neither angel nor righteous man, neither law nor free-will, could help mankind, but only the Lion of the tribe of Judah. No helper. For man, (G.) like him who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, hath fallen from Paradise into the power of Satan, who hath stripped and wounded him, leaving him half dead. Neither Priest nor Levite, no help from the old Law, availed him, till the Great Physician came that way, poured oil and wine into his wounds, and placed him in the Church to recover. And because CHRIST is a skilful Physician, it is said that He is favourable (He spares, Vulg.) the simple and needy, but He does not spare their sins. He makes war on the disease, He cuts away the proud flesh, (Ay.) but He preserves the souls of the poor from their triple danger—slavery to the devil, pollution by sin, liability to punishment. And therefore, as the Master of the Sentences points out, CHRIST’S mercy and justice appear in His double gift of grace,* in that He spares first, instead of avenging Himself; then preserves the souls of His poor,* blotting out past sins, bestowing grace to guard against relapses, remitting the penalty due.

14 He shall deliver their souls from falsehood and wrong: and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

From falsehood, because He saves them from him who is the “father of lies,”* and from the worship of false gods, turning them “from these vanities unto the living GOD.” From wrong, because He hath “broken the rod of the oppressor.”* But the LXX. and Vulgate read, He shall redeem their souls from usury1 and from iniquity. What are these usuries but sins, (A.) which are also called debts? They seem to be called usury, because the punishments are more grievous than the sins. For instance: a homicide slays only the body of a man, but can in no wise hurt his soul; while his own soul and body perish together in hell. Again, (G.) eternal punishment is called usury, because it so far surpasses any pleasure or advantage which sin can give us here, just as heavy compound interest soon exceeds the principal of a debt. From iniquity is added because GOD is not content with remitting punishment, (A.) but desires that sinners should turn from their wickedness and live, He bestows grace upon them, whereby justified, they may become holy, and not merely escape hell, but be fitted for heaven. But S. Chrysostom reminds us that, while GOD exacts no usury for our sins, He will, according to the parable of the ten pounds, demand usury for the divine gifts He has bestowed on us. And dear shall their blood be in His sight. It is spoken of His martyrs, whom He delivered from the falsehood of heathenism, from the violent wrong of persecution; and of whom it is said in another Psalm, “Right dear in the sight of the LORD is the death of His Saints.”* Wherefore the Paris Breviary:

Quem lictor insanus sitit,*
Quem cæcus effundit furor,
Amor sacerdos prodigum
Christo cruorem consecrat.

Et ille, mixtus sanguini
Quem fudit in ligno Deus,
Fundentibus placabilem
Orare non cessat Deum.

The LXX. and Vulgate, (A.) however, for blood read name. So then their name is honourable in His sight, for it is His own. They have left behind them the Pagan names they once bore, (D. C.) derived from Gentile superstition, or from their own defects and misdeeds; and now they are called Christians, the sons of the Eternal FATHER. And therefore GOD foretold His will to the unbelieving Jews, “Ye shall leave your name for a curse unto My chosen; for the LORD GOD shall slay thee, and call His servants by another name, that he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the GOD of Truth.”* There is another reading: His Name shall be honourable in their sight. How honourable, (Z.) how precious, let the hymn tell us:

Nomen dulee,* nomen gratum, nomen ineffabile,
Dulcis JESUS appellatum, nomen delectabile,
Laxat pœnas et reatum, nomen est amabile.

Hoc est nomen adorandum, nomen summæ gloriæ,
Nomen semper meditandum in valle miseriæ,
Nomen digne venerandum supernorum curiæ.

15 He shall live, and unto him shall be given of the gold of Arabia; prayer shall be made ever unto him, and daily shall he be praised.

He shall live. And first let us take it of Him of Whom they said, “Let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause;”* and again, “Let us condemn Him with a shameful death.”* To Him alone can those words of Eastern reverence be addressed with truth, (L.) “O King, live for ever!”* for He only can say, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”* And next, it is spoken of Him as He lives in His Saints,* according to that saying of the Apostle, “I am crucified with CHRIST; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but CHRIST liveth in me.”* And with this nearly agrees that other interpretation,* that He shall live in the hearts of His poor. And unto Him shall be given of the gold of Arabia. Literally we may take it, with Cassiodorus, (C.) of the gifts brought by the Eastern wise men; mystically with S. Augustine, (A.) and most of those who follow him, of the intellectual wisdom of the Gentiles laid at the feet of CHRIST, as when Justin and Cyprian, Gregory Thaumaturgus, and Augustine himself devoted their powers to His service. Euthymius explains it of the Arab converts whom he supposes S. Paul to have made during his three years’ sojourn in their country. Prayer shall be made ever unto Him. This, (Z.) though true in fact, is not the meaning of the passage.* The A. V. reads, Prayer also shall be made for him continually. The LXX. and Vulgate are nearly the same, concerning Him; the Ambrosian Psalter, (Z.) as A. V., for Him. It is said, observes Euthymius, of the Prophets, who desired to see His day. (A.) It is said of Christians, remarks S. Augustine, (Ay.) who utter daily the petition, “Thy kingdom come.” They who are of Him, (G.) (de ipso, Vulg.,) notes the Carmelite, even members of His Body, ever make their prayer to Him. They pray (de ipso) in His own words,* says another, when they recite the Our FATHER. They shall pray (de ipso) in His strength, (Lu.) having none of their own. If it be further asked how we can be said to pray for CHRIST, we may answer with S. Augustine and S. Remigius, (A.) that we pray for His Body the Church, (R.) that it may be filled up with His elect; or, with a later commentator, that we may fitly, when desiring the spread of His kingdom, cry, with the children in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” And daily shall He be praised.* The LXX. and Vulgate read, All the day. Either way it denotes the perpetual worship paid to Him in earth and heaven, all the day of our toil here, before “the night cometh when no man can work;”* all the endless day of heaven, which hath no night. All the day. So a poet of our own:

The night becomes as day
When from the heart we say,
May JESUS CHRIST be praised.

In heaven’s eternal bliss
The loveliest strain is this,
May JESUS CHRIST be praised.

To GOD the WORD on high
The hosts of Angels cry,
May JESUS CHRIST be praised.

Be this while life is mine
My canticle divine,
May JESUS CHRIST be praised.

Be this the eternal song
Through all the ages on,
May JESUS CHRIST be praised.

16 There shall be an heap of corn in the earth, high upon the hills: his fruit shall shake like Libanus, and shall be green in the city like grass upon the earth.

There has been much doubt as to the precise meaning of the first clause in this verse. The word כִּסַּת here translated heap, occurs nowhere else, and a variety of renderings have been suggested. The A. V. reads handful. The LXX. στήριγμα, the Vulgate, similarly, firmamentum (both omitting the word corn) the Syriac Psalter multitude. Gesenius, somewhat alike, diffusion or abundance, with which Olshausen and Hupfeld agree. Delitzsch explains it a level surface, i.e., either a threshing-floor, or an artificial terrace for cultivation. The Chaldee Targum paraphrases פִּסַּת־בַּר as substance-making bread. And S. Jerome turns it a memorial of corn. According to the LXX. and Vulgate reading, the words of the Psalmist are but another form of the prophecy of Isaiah and Micah. “It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the tops of the mountains, (C.) and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.”* CHRIST the LORD is the firmament, or strong foundation of those Prophets and Apostles who are called mountains, and yet He is also lifted up over them. “We read,” (G.) observes Gerhohus, “that there was made ‘a firmament in the midst of the waters,’* when as yet ‘the earth was without form and void.’ We see the heaven adorned with stars, a beauteous and wondrous work, performed by the WORD, not yet Incarnate. But a far more wonderful and awful thing is that the WORD should become Flesh, and be a firmament on the earth, hitherto void and formless. There shall be a firmament upon the earth, for man did eat angels’ food, and this bread which strengthens man’s heart shall be a firmament upon the earth, as much fairer than that heavenly firmament as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than it. For He Who called that ethereal heaven the firmament because by firm division it parted the waters from the waters, He, setting a firmament on earth,* ‘hath given Him a Name which is above every name’ and hath bestowed on Him power and judgment to divide the waters from the waters: His people from them who are not His people. For the ‘waters are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.’ ”* There shall be a firmament upon the earth, remarks another, because they who rest on Him shall be firm and steadfast in faith and charity,* even amongst the cares and troubles of this life. Another, (though unauthoritative) reading in some Latin Psalters, however, frumentum instead of firmamentum, has brought back several of the expositors to the word corn, which is the prominent one in the Hebrew text. And they all take it then of the Holy Eucharist. A cloud of Rabbinical tradition hovers round the passage, and helps to frame it that we may see it in this aspect. Besides the rendering of the Targum given above, (L.) the following may be cited. In the Midrash Coheleth, (Cd.) a comment on Ecclesiastes,* it is said that as Moses caused manna to come down from heaven, so Messiah shall be a cake of corn upon the earth. Rabbi Jonathan in his Targum reads, There shall be a sacrifice of bread upon the earth, on the head of the mountains of the Church. And this is further explained in the Sepher-Kibucim to the effect that in the days of Messiah there shall be a cake of corn lifted in sacrifice over the heads of the priests in the temple. Herein, (Ay.) most naturally, the commentators see the Elevation of the Host, that primeval rite of the Divine Liturgy wherein He Who is the substantiating Bread, the Memorial Sacrifice, the Corn of mighty meu, is uplifted in oblation to the FATHER, Himself the Victim and Himself the Priest. Wherefore Hildebert of Tours:

Sub cruce, sub verbo natura novatur,* et aram
Panis honorifieat carne, cruore calix.
Presbyter idcirco, cum verba venitur ad illa,
In quibus altari gratia tanta datur,
Tollit utrumque, notans quod sit communibus escis
Altior, et quiddam majus utrumque gerat.

Again, we may find a more literal fulfilment of the prophecy in the events of the Gospel history, wherein He Who is the Bread of Life is seen so often “like a young hart upon the mountains.”* In the temple on Moriah, in the place of His first preaching, in the scene of many an hour of prayer, in the Transfiguration, the Crucifixion, the Ascension, again and again His feet are beautiful on the mountains.

Thrice for us the Word Incarnate high on holy hills was set,
Once on Tabor, once on Calvary, and again on Olivet;
Once to shine, and once to suffer, and once more, as King of kings,
With a merry noise ascending, borne by cherubs on their wings.

If, however, we explain the words of His husbandry, the Church, we shall still not lose our grasp of mystical interpretation. The heap or handful of corn will then denote the Christian body, the “city set on a hill that cannot be hid.” High upon the hills, either because raised on the “foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,”* those mountains of GOD’S house, or because of its own prominence in the world. Again, if we take the interpretation a floor or level spot covered with corn; this may denote one of two things. The corn, even after being parted from tares, has yet to be separated from its own husk and chaff on GOD’S lofty threshing-floor, and the words will thus denote the purifying of His people through afflictions in this world, and through the cleansing of purgatory in the intermediate state. Once more, Delitzsch’s interpretation, a terrace planted with corn, gives a very beautiful meaning. Till the Gospel came, only the plains and lower slopes of the life of holiness were cultivated. The higher ground soared rugged and barren far above, showing, indeed, peaks kissed by the first sunbeams, but difficult of ascent, and almost untrodden by man’s foot. Terrace after terrace now rises up the mountain side, and earth, borne slowly and laboriously from below, covers the bare rock, until the whole height is scaled, and the golden corn waves on the very summits of the spiritual life, to wit, the practice of those counsels of perfection which were once deemed too hard for men to follow. His fruit shall shake like Libanus. That is, the waving of the cornfield which the LORD hath blessed, shall be like that of the cedar-forest of Lebanon bending before the wind. And in this prophecy we may see shadowed the height to which the Gospel rises above the Law. For the stateliest forest-king known to the Hebrews is here compared to the single ear of corn, undistinguishable by human eyes from any other in the harvest. So even the humble and hidden Christian Saints of GOD in daily acts of holiness rise higher than the very mightiest seers of the elder dispensation,* because the Church is exalted above the Synagogue. And with this agrees the Æthiopie Psalter: His fruit shall be loftier than the cedar. The LXX. and Vulgate read a little differently: His fruit shall be lifted up above Lebanon. Lebanon, (A.) observes S. Augustine, we are wont to take as this world’s dignity, for Lebanon is a mountain bearing tall trees, and the name itself is interpreted ‘whiteness.’ What wonder is it then, if the fruit of CHRIST be exalted over every splendid position of this world, since the lovers of that fruit despise all worldly dignities? But if we take the words in a good sense, because of the “cedars of Libanus which He hath planted;”* what other fruit can be understood, as being exalted over this Libanus, save that whereof the Apostle speaketh when about to speak of charity, “and yet show I unto you a more excellent way?”* For this is put in the front place of divine gifts, in that passage where he saith, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love.”* Again; it may be taken of the effects of the Passion of CHRIST, (D. C.) lifting up His Saints above all the glory and temptations of the world. Or if we continue to take it of the Holy Eucharist, (Ay.) the words denote its preeminence over all other means of grace given by GOD to His Church. (P.) Euthymius sees here a reference to the idol-worship anciently practised in Lebanon, (Cd.) and the victory of the Gospel over it and all other idolatry. And shall be green in the city like grass upon the earth. (Z.) The LXX. and Vulgate have: They shall flourish out of the city like grass (or hay Vulg.) of the earth. From the Church, (A.) GOD’S city, notes S. Augustine, and as grass beareth fruit, like wheat, which is called grass in Holy Scripture.* There are two cities, adds Gerhohus, of either of which these words may be spoken, (G.) Jerusalem and Babylon. If we take it of the former, GOD’S city, then S. Augustine’s explanation holds, if of the latter, the city of the world and the devil, it warns us that all flesh is grass, and that all the goodliness of that city is as the flower of the field.* So they who seek an abiding city here shall quickly perish in the judgment, for as soon as the sun ariseth, straightway the grass shall be dried up. It is of this world we must understand the words, (C.) aptly remarks Cassiodorus, because it is written, out of the city, not in the city, that CHRIST’S fruit will flourish. They will rise out of the earthly state in which they are planted into the bright sun and pure air of His presence. And they are compared to grass, because of its freshness and beauty, (D. C.) not with any thought of its brief life, because theirs is immortal. The Carthusian, laying stress also on the words out of the city, draws a very different corollary from them. They are spoken, says he, of those who having approached to the Communion of CHRIST’S Body in the Eucharist, return from church strengthened and refreshed, (L.) and flourishing in grace. S. Antony of Padua, also referring to the Holy Eucharist, explains the text of the Angels winging their flight down from the heavenly city to gaze on the mysteries of the altar. Lastly; the city is taken to mean, as so often, the earthly Jerusalem, whence the Gospel began, so that the preachers who went forth from it flourished, (Z.) while those who remained behind perished quickly as the grass of the field.

17 His Name shall endure for ever; his Name shall remain under the sun among the posterities: which shall be blessed through him; and all the heathen shall praise him.

A very beautiful meaning of the second clause in this verse is lost as well in the Bible version as in this one, nor does it appear in LXX., Vulgate, or Syriac. For His Name shall remain, we shall read, (having regard to the word יִנֹּין)1 His Name shall burgeon, shall put forth fresh shoots. And we shall thus find a reference to the perpetual vitality of the Gospel, the way in which it continually renews its youth and vigour when men deem it most effete, and also to the incessant additions of Christian names to the roll-call of GOD’S army, made in the Sacrament of Baptism. The LXX. and Vulgate read, His Name abideth before the sun. Before the sun, (A.) because the sun is the measure of time, and the Eternal WORD is before all time. Before the sun, because CHRIST existed before the angels, who are compared to the sun, (Ay.) were created. And there is a Rabbinical saying that there were seven things existing before the world was made,* of which one was the Name of Messiah. With this agrees the Targum, Before the sun His Name was prepared. The reading of the margin in the A. V. is: His Name shall be as a son to continue his father’s name for ever, which is nearly that of R. Kimchi. Others take it: His Name shall be the Son. Either way it speaks of Him Who came down to reveal His FATHER unto us, Who is that Holy Thing born of the Virgin Mary, and “called the SON of GOD.”* Among the posterities which shall be blessed through Him. The LXX. and Vulgate, somewhat differently: In Him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed. It is the renewal of the promise made to Abraham. (D. C.) “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,”* on which we have the inspired comment of the Apostle, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is CHRIST.”* They explain also all the tribes of the earth of all elect souls, (Lu.) according to their varying merits, because it is written, “In My FATHER’S house are many mansions.”*

Ye know the many mansions
For many a glorious name,
And divers retributions,
That divers merits claim;
For midst the constellations
That deck our earthly sky,
This star than that is brighter,—
And so it is on high.

18 Blessed be the Lord GOD, even the GOD of Israel: which only doeth wondrous things;
19 And blessed be the Name of his Majesty for ever: and all the earth shall be filled with his Majesty. Amen, Amen.

The triple utterance of the Divine Name,* found in the Hebrew, but not in the LXX. and Vulgate, denotes, remarks S. Jerome, the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Observe, that in the four last verses of this Psalm four reasons are given why worship and praise are due to CHRIST. First, because of His Eternity, (P.) for His Name endureth before the sun; secondly, because of His infinite goodness and mercy, for all nations are to be blessed and redeemed through Him; thirdly, by reason of His omnipotence, for He only doeth wondrous things; fourthly, (G.) because of His supreme Majesty. Which only doeth wondrous things. For He alone does them by His own might, whether He work of Himself or through agents, which is true of no one else, since none worketh them without Him. And though He saith: “The FATHER that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works;”* yet without Him, Who is the hand, arm, might, and wisdom of the FATHER, the FATHER doeth nought, nor yet the SPIRIT of the FATHER, Who is His SPIRIT too, because the operation of the Most High Trinity is undivided. Thus He only doeth wondrous things, yet He is not alone, for it is Man, assumed into the WORD, of one essence with the FATHER and the HOLY GHOST, (Ay.) Who worketh in the might and power, or majesty of the whole Trinity.* And so it is written, “All things were made by Him;”* and again, “LORD, (D. C.) Thou also hast wrought all our works in us.” And therefore He says of His Saints, “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also.”* For ever. It can be no prophecy for Solomon, observes Tertullian, since he fell into idolatry, and lost that glory he had in GOD beforetime.* It can only be of Him Who is the Name of GOD’S Majesty, (L.) the Eternal SON. And all the earth shall be filled with His Majesty. And that in divers ways, as first by the Incarnation, whereby His Infinite Majesty is united to all human nature, for man is called by the Fathers the “second world.”* Secondly, by the preaching of the Gospel, for “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”* Thirdly, (Cd.) by the glory of the Resurrection. So S. Bernard: “All the earth,* I say, shall be filled with the Majesty of the LORD, when it shall be clad in the glory of the Resurrection. Why then murmurest thou still, O hapless flesh? why resistest thou still, and strivest against the Spirit? If He humble thee, if He scourge thee, if He bring thee into bondage, it is for thy sake, doubtless, in thy generation, not less than for His own.” Amen. Amen. Rabbi Jehudah the Holy said, “He that said Amen in this world, is worthy to say it in the world to come. David, therefore, utters Amen twice in this Psalm, to show that one Amen belongs to this world, the other to that which is to come. He who saith Amen devoutly, is greater than he who uttereth the prayers, for the prayers are but the letter, and the Amen is the seal. The scribe writeth the letters, the Prince alone seals them.”* Amen, (Be it so, Vulg.) now, particularly, (G.) Amen then, universally. Amen now, for we need it as comfort in our journey. Amen then will befit the full joy of our heavenly country. Let us then all say Amen, Amen, with eager longing to behold the King Solomon, not only with that crown of thorns wherewith His mother crowned Him, denoting thereby the Church formed of sinners and set upon CHRIST as a crown, but also with that diadem wherewith His FATHER crowned Him, because of His death and passion, with honour and glory, setting Him on the throne of everlasting brightness. From which throne we pray that He may rule all that is not yet under Him, that the whole earth may be filled with His Majesty.
And therefore:
Glory be to the FATHER, the King Eternal, Who giveth His judgment unto the King His SON; glory be to the SON, the true King Solomon, Who maketh peace in all His kingdom; glory be to the HOLY GHOST, Who is the Peace of all them who fight for Solomon, and serve Him here below, and Who will be yet more fully the peace of them that reign with Him in heaven.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.


Almighty GOD,* we pray Thee, calling on Thy Name, blessed before all worlds, that, humbling the slanderer, Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bestow peace and righteousness upon Thy people. Through. (1.)
O LORD, (D. C.) by the indulgence of Thy bounty, let us receive peace and righteousness, and alway possess them through Thine aid, that our slanderers may be brought low, and we may praise Thy blessed Name for evermore. (1.)
O LORD,* be favourable unto the poor, and heal the souls of the needy, that we, who trust not in our own strength, and hopefully intreat Thy mercy, may, through poverty of spirit, obtain the fulness of heavenly blessing. (11.)
Let the mountains,* enlightened with the earliest ray of faith, bring peace unto Thy people, that the righteousness of the hills may come down from the height of the Saints, and small and great together attain the summit of perfect deserving. (11.)
O GOD,* SON of GOD, Whose Name abideth for ever, and Who, making Thyself known as only GOD and LORD, camest, through the mystery of the Incarnation Thou tookest on Thee, to be a King, to redeem the world; grant us such warmth in this mystery of love, that we may escape the snare of the deceiver, so that, as we proclaim with loud voice the joys of Thine Advent, we may exult in our salvation when Thou, our Judge, comest to judgment. (11.)
O LORD,* to Whom the kings and the isles bring gifts, Who with Thine unconquered power, and through Thy heavenly pity, camest to save the poor from the mighty, and frail mankind from the sway of the ancient enemy; seeing that we are far from Thee, and in need of Thy mercies, that we are subject to his unrighteousness, tied and bound with the chains of our sins, let Thy lovingkindness deliver us now from his service, restore us to Thee, and keep us safely to abide with Thee, that we, who confess ourselves redeemed by Thy mercy, may hereafter glory in the gifts attained by Thy bounty. (11.)

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 6:31-36

Posted by carmelcutthroat on October 2, 2022

In the Byzantine Gregorian Lectionary this is the gospel reading for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost.

Lk 6:31. CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 13. ad Pop. Ant.) Now we have a natural law implanted in us, by which we distinguish between what is virtue, and what is vice. Hence it follows, And as ye would that men should do unto you, do ye also to them. He does not say, Whatever ye would not that men should do unto you, do not ye. For since there are two ways which lead to virtue, namely, abstaining from evil, and doing good, he names one, signifying by it the other also. And if indeed He had said, That ye may be men, love the beasts, the command would be a difficult one. But if they are commanded to love men, which is a natural admonition, wherein lies the difficulty, since even the wolves and lions observe it, whom a natural relation compels to love one another. It is manifest then that Christ has ordained nothing surpassing our nature, but what He had long before implanted in our conscience, so that thy own will is the law to thee. And if thou wilt have good done unto thee, thou must do good to others; if thou wilt that another should shew mercy to thee, thou must shew mercy to thy neighbour.

Lk 6:32. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

Lk 6:33. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.

Lk 6:34. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

Lk 6:35. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

Lk 6:36. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Chrysostom. (Hom. i. in Col.) The Lord had said that we must love our enemies, but that you might not think this an exaggerated expression, regarding it solely as spoken to alarm them, he adds the reason, saying, For if you love them which love you, what thank have ye? There are indeed several causes which produce love; but spiritual love exceeds them all. For nothing earthly engenders it, neither gain, nor kindness, nor nature, nor time, but it descends from heaven. But why wonder that it needs not kindness to excite it, when it is not even overcome of malice? A father indeed suffering wrong bursts the bands of love. A wife after a quarrel leaves her husband. A son, if he sees his father come to a great age, is troubled. But Paul went to those who stoned him to do them good. (Acts 14:17) Moses is stoned by the Jews, and prays for them. (Ex 17:4) Let us then reverence spiritual love, for it is indissoluble. Reproving therefore those who were inclined to wax cold, he adds, For sinners even love those which love them. As if he said, Because I wish you to possess more than these, I do not advise you only to love your friends, but also your enemies. It is common to all to do good to those who do good to them. But he shews that he seeks something more than is the custom of sinners, who do good to their friends. Hence it follows, And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thank have ye?

Bede. But he not only condemns as unprofitable the love and kindness of sinners, but also the lending. As it follows, And if ye lend to those from whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

Ambrose. Now philosophy seems to divide justice into three parts; one towards God, which is called piety; another towards our parents, or the rest of mankind; a third to the dead, that the proper rites may be performed. But the Lord Jesus passing beyond the oracle of the law, and the heights of prophecy, extended the duties of piety to those also who have injured us, adding, But love your enemies.

Chrysostom. (Hom. 58. in Gen.) Whereby thou wilt confer more upon thyself than him. For he is beloved by a fellow servant, but thou art made like unto God. But it is a mark of the greatest virtue when we embrace with kindness those who wish to do us harm. Hence it follows, And do good. For as water, when cast upon a lighted furnace, extinguishes it, so also reason joined with gentleness. But what water is to fire, such is lowliness and meekness to wrath; and as fire is not extinguished by fire, so neither is anger soothed by anger.

Gregory of Nyssa. (Orat. cont. usurar.) But man ought to shun that baneful anxiety with which he seeks from the poor man increase of his money and gold, exacting a profit of barren metals. Hence he adds, And lend, hoping for nothing again, &c. If a man should call the harsh calculation of interest, theft, or homicide, he will not err. For what is the difference, whether a man by digging under a wall become possessed of property, or possess it unlawfully by the compulsory rate of interest?

Basil. (Hom. in Ps. 14.) Now this mode of avarice is rightly called in the Greek τόκος, from producing, because of the fruitfulness of the evil. Animals in course of time grow up and produce, but interest as soon as it is born begins to bring forth. Animals which bring forth most rapidly cease soonest from breeding, but the money of the avaricious goes on increasing with time. Animals when they transfer their bringing forth to their own young, themselves cease to breed, but the money of the covetous both produces an increase, and renews the capital. Touch not then the destructive monster. For what advantage that the poverty of to-day is escaped, if it falls upon us repeatedly, and is increased? Reflect then how canst thou restore thyself? Whence shall thy money be so multiplied as that it will partly relieve thy want, partly refresh thy capital, and besides bring forth interest? But thou sayest, How shall I get my living? I answer, work, serve, last of all, beg; any thing is more tolerable than borrowing upon interest. But thou sayest, what is that lending to which the hope of repayment is not attached? Consider the excellence of the words, and thou wilt admire the mercifulness of the author. When thou art about to give to a poor man from regard to divine charity, it is both a lending and a gift; a gift indeed, because no return is hoped for; lending, because of the beneficence of God, who restores it in its turn. Hence it follows, And great shall be your reward. Dost thou not wish the Almighty to be bound to restore to thee? Or, should He make some rich citizen thy security, dost thou accept him, but reject God standing as security for the poor?

Chrysostom. (Hom. 3. in. Gen.) Observe the wonderful nature of lending, one receives and another binds himself for his debts, giving a hundred fold at the present time, and in the future eternal life.

Ambrose. How great the reward of mercy which is received into the privilege of divine adoption! For it follows, And ye shall be the sons of the Highest (Ps. 82:6.). Follow then mercy, that ye may obtain grace. Widely spread is the mercy of God; He pours His rain upon the unthankful, the fruitful earth refuses not its increase to the evil. Hence it follows, For he is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil.

Bede. Either by giving them temporal gifts, or by inspiring His heavenly gifts with a wonderful grace.

Cyril of Alexandria. Great then is the praise of mercy. For this virtue makes us like unto God, and imprints upon our souls certain signs as it were of a heavenly nature. Hence it follows, Be ye then merciful, as your heavenly Father also is merciful.

Athanasius. (Orat. 3. cont. Arian.) That is to say, that we beholding His mercies, what good things we do should do them not with regard to men, but to Him, that we may obtain our rewards from God, not from men.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1

Posted by carmelcutthroat on October 2, 2022

In the Byzantine Gregorian Lectionary this is the Epistle reading for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost. The post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief summary on chapter 6, followed by the commentary on the reading. Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation.


In this chapter, the Apostle, as ambassador of Christ, exhorts the Corinthians to correspond with the graces bestowed on them through the Apostolic ministry; and, in order to stimulate them the more, he tells them that the present is the acceptable time referred to by the Prophet Isaias (2 Cor 6:1-2). In the next place, he recounts the virtues which distinguish both himself and his fellow-labourers, while, at the same time, he tacitly reproaches the false teachers with the total absence of these necessary virtues, so befitting every minister of the Gospel (2 Cor 6:3–11). He then apologizes for the freedom with which he thus addresses the Corinthians, by assuring them of his intense affection for them, from which alone this unreserved freedom of speech proceeded (2 Cor 6:12). He mildly reproaches them with a want of correspondence, by making a return of affection for himself (2 Cor 6:12-13). As ambassador of Christ, he exhorts them to avoid all intercourse in religion with the Pagans, and assigns several reasons of propriety and congruity for this (2 Cor 6:14–16). He finally concludes with a quotation from the Old Testament, wherein God tells his people to have nothing to do with the unclean, and, in case of compliance, holds out the promise of the highest rewards.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on.

2 Cor 6:16. Or what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For, you are the temple of the living God, as God himself testifies in the Holy Scriptures:—“I shall dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they, in turn, shall be the people specially consecrated to me.”

In this verse he undertakes to prove, from the 26th chapter of Leviticus, that the Christians are the temples of God. The passage quoted here, literally regarded the tabernacle or portable temple of the Jews: of it, God says—“I will place my tabernacle in the midst of you, and my soul shall not cast you off. I will be to your God,” &c.—(Lev 24:11-12). The Apostle quotes the passage with a change of the second person into the third. “I will dwell in them, their God: they, my people.” The words express the special protection which God meant to extend to the Jewish people, and, in a more particular way, to the spiritual Israel of the New Law. In their mystical, or allegorical sense, they refer to the soul of the just man, which is a kind of movable temple of God.

2 Cor 6:17. Wherefore, go out from the midst of the profane and separate yourselves from all intercourse with them, and be not polluted by their uncleanness.

He grounds the prohibition, secondly, on the precept given to the Israelites, to fly the impurities of the Babylonians.—(Isa 52:2). For, if it were imperatively enjoined on the Jews to fly any intimate association with the Pagans of Babylon, much more obligatory is it on the Christians of Corinth, called to a higher state of sanctity, to shun all dangerous communications with Pagans, of still more corrupt and dissolute morals.

2 Cor 6:18. And should you do so, I will not leave you desolate or devoid of all comfort. I shall be to you a father, and you shall hold the place of sons and daughters with me, saith the Lord Almighty.

It is not well ascertained from what part of Scripture the words of this verse are quoted. They are generally referred to chapter 30 of Jeremiah. Others refer them to chapter 43 of Isaiah. From whatever place taken, they certainly refer to the adoption of the children of the New Testament, and both sexes are referred to, “sons and daughters,” because, both sexes are concerned in the intermarriages with the Pagans, the abuse particularly referred to by the Apostle in this passage.

2 Cor 7:1.

2 Cor 7:1. Since, then, such glorious promises have been made to us, dearly beloved brethren, let us, in order to secure them, cleanse ourselves from all defilement of both carnal and spiritual sins, consummating the sanctity received in baptism by good works performed from the filial fear of God.

“These promises.” The promises referred to in the preceding chapter—viz., that they would be temples of God, and his adopted sons and daughters, &c.

“Of the flesh,” i.e., carnal sins; such as gluttony, impurity, &c. “And of the spirit.” Spiritual sins—viz., pride, envy, &c. “Perfecting sanctification.” &c. Perfecting the sanctity communicated to us in baptism, by good works, which were to be performed from the filial fear of God. Hence, every Christian should not only avoid all sorts of sin; but, he should also endeavour to advance more and more in sanctity, by the performance of good works from the motive of virtue, the fear and love of God.

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