Theodore_the_StuditeThe abundant cornfield delights the heart of the husbandman on his approach.

Much more is the ruler of souls gladdened by the spiritual fruitfulness of those under his charge.

Thus do you bring joy to me, my children, you who are the field of my labours and a plantation of God, by the increase, and as it were the blossoming forth of your virtues.

And I rejoice to see the zeal of each one about his business, the industry and care of each in working out his salvation:

the gentleness of one; the laborious industry, even beyond measure, of another; the reverence and caution of a third;

the skill of a fourth in replying to the attacks of adversaries, without cessation or weariness;

the peaceable character of a fifth, unmoved by passions — result of peace and calm within, not of outward forcing;

in another, confidence in me, for all my unworthiness, and the disposition to regard me as better than I am;

in yet another, a disposition untouched by earthly longings or any love of the world.

In a word, I delight to see the growth and fruitfulness in the spirit as shown by all of you in all divers ways.

Are we not thus all walking together and knit together by our heavenly impulse, and by the holy prayers of my father.

I wonder not a little, and surely this is worthy of wonder. Yet I tremble above measure every day.

For what if God, seeing how idle and unprofitable is my service, and waxing wroth against my sins, were to withdraw His favourable hand from the midst of us?

For then there might come upon us what to speak were unfitting, or even to think, such a thing as discord, or slackness of soul, or a falling away, whether secret or manifest.

To the end, therefore, that you may confirm me — unworthy as I am — and yourselves, in the lot of the saints and the inheritance of the righteous, and in all good repute,

keep to these same things, my children, or rather press on further still, in discipline and in zeal, from glory to glory,

from knowledge to knowledge, from our citizenship to a citizenship meet for God;

swerving not from what you have resolved and agreed upon in the presence of God and of the angels, and of my humble self.

Let us not become slack, nor lose heart if the time seems long — though in truth it is not long — for our life is but a dream and a shadow.

Theodore the Studite (759-826): Great Catechesis, Discourse 61 in Alice Gardner, Theodore of Studium: His Life and Times (1905), pp. 89-90.