Rabanus Maurus: From the Desert of the World to the Kingdom where Christ Reigns Wednesday, Nov 7 2012 

God calls the Israelites an upright people, a race without re­proach, descended from the seed of the patriarchs and ever a worshipper of the one true God, whether oppressed by the Egyptians and other nations, or freed from them by the leadership of Moses and Aaron.

They were raised aloft by the wonders of God, at the crossing of the Red Sea, a cloud covering them by day and a pillar of fire shining over them by night; and God worked other miracles abundantly for them in the desert besides.

The Lord mysteriously frees his chosen ones from the hands of their persecutors, terrifying their enemies by a blinding flash of miracles.

He gives his servants wisdom of a kind not to be resisted or gainsaid by any adversary.

Wherefore they stand fearless in the presence of the kings and potentates of this world, speaking the word of God with confi­dence.

And, through the sufferings of martyrs, they attain to the rewards of the kingdom of heaven, where they sing praises forever to their king and saviour.

His wisdom has opened the mouths of the dumb and made eloquent tongues of babes.

Clear it is that, apart from God’s gift of wisdom, the mind of man cannot think anything out aright, or speak to any great purpose.

Wherefore from him alone is sound understanding to be sought, or the faculty of talking good sense; for from him, through him, and in him are all things.

He entrusted their concerns to the hands of his holy Prophet Moses. They made their journey through the desert places where no man dwelt; and in the secret places did they find their lodging.

The ancient people set out from Egypt led by Moses and went through the desert, pitching their tents in uninhabitable places, as the Pentateuch relates.

So also nowadays the people follow – the Christians follow, that is to say – the lead of the prophecy, to make their way in the desert of this world, whereby they are to reach their homeland, in the heavenly kingdom, where Christ reigns.

This is what Saint Peter the Apostle revealed, when he said: We have a surer prophetic utterance which you would do well to heed, as it were a lantern lit in a dark place till the day shall dawn and the morning star rise in your hearts.

Rabanus Maurus (c.780-856): Commentary on Wisdom, 2, 7 (PL 109:718-719); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of Week 31 in Ordinary Time, Year 2

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Rabanus Maurus: Christ is the Wisdom of God Sunday, Oct 14 2012 

All wisdom is from the Lord and it is his own forever.

The beginning of this book, then, speaks of the eternal Wisdom of God which was with the Father before all ages.

So also St John’s Gospel which opens thus: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

All wisdom is from the Lord because Christ, who is the source of life and the light which illumines every man coming into this world, was born of God the Father; and all things were made through him and without him was made nothing that was made.

But whoever lacks the light of this wisdom is walking in the dark, not knowing where he is going because the darkness has dimmed his sight.

Whatever opposes this wisdom should be dubbed ‘folly’.

So St Paul says, The wisdom of this world is folly with God. And again, To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

For the wisdom of the flesh is at enmity with God since it is not subject to the law of God, nor can it be.

[…] Before all other things wisdom was created; who can probe her?

[…] If nobody can count the sand of the sea or the raindrops or the days of eternity…, how can anyone probe the wisdom of God which exists without beginning and without end and abides forever, at once indescribable and immeasurable?

For the power of God and the wisdom of God – Christ, that is – was always with the Father and, as the Father is without beginning, so is the Son without beginning.

Before all things wisdom was created and shrewd under­standing is everlasting. The Fathers understand this text, as well as the one from Proverbs, The Lord created me at the beginning of his ways,as referring to the Lord’s incarnation.

Just as the Son in his divine nature was born of the Father before all ages, so before all ages he was predestined in the plan of the Father to become incarnate in time for the salvation of the human race.

The word ‘created’ refers to his human not his divine nature, although, because of the unity of person, the Son is sometimes said to be generated, sometimes created.

He is therefore the beginning of God’s ways (he himself said, I am the way) who rose from the dead and made a pathway for the Church to the kingdom of God and eternal life.

Rabanus Maurus (c.780-856): Commentary on Sirach, 1, 1-2 (PL 109:765-766); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Sunday of Week 27 in Ordinary Time, Year 2

Rabanus Maurus: Christ, the Fair Glory of the Holy Angels Saturday, Sep 29 2012 

Christ, the fair glory of the holy angels,
Maker of all things, ruler of all nations,
Grant of thy mercy unto us thy servants
Steps up to heaven.

Send thine archangel Michael to our succour;
Peacemaker blessed, may he banish from us
Striving and hatred, so that for the peaceful
All things may prosper.

Send thine archangel Gabriel, the mighty;
Herald of heaven, may he, from us mortals,
Drive every evil, watching o’er the temples
Where thou art worshiped.

Send from the heavens Raphael thine archangel,
Health-bringer blessed, aiding every sufferer,
That, in thy service, he may wisely guide us,
Healing and blessing.

May the blest mother of our God and Saviour,
May the celestial companies of angels,
May the assembly of the saints in heaven
Hhelp us to praise thee.

Father Almighty, Son, and Holy Spirit,
God ever blessèd, hear our thankful praises;
Thine is the glory which from all creation
Ever ascendeth.

Rabanus Maurus (c.780-856), translated by the compilers of Hymns Ancient and Modern @ Hymnary.org.

Rabanus Maurus: The Lord Is Just in All His Ways and Kind in All His Doings Tuesday, Sep 11 2012 

(Commenting on Esther 4:1-16)

Mordecai, hearing that the death of the Jews was planned by imperial decree, put on mourning and, in bitterness of soul and cries of anguish, went to the entrance of the palace.

When the leaders of the Church hear of the persecution which the rulers of this world plan to bring upon the innocent servants of Christ, they display to heaven with tears and compunction of heart their press­ing needs..

[…] Now, should someone ask how it can be reconciled with being the most just of kings that he should inflict trials upon the innocent, let him know that this is not out of a wish to do evil, but the consequence of some supreme purpose.

For the wisdom of God which overcomes all evil, and reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other and orders all things well, does all that it wills in heaven and on earth, in the sea and in the deep.

By a just decision it comes about that his faithful servants are given into the hands of their persecutors, either to expiate their sins, or reform their way of living, or even to increase their merits and double their reward.

For, as the Prophet bears witness: The Lord is just in all his ways and kind in all his doings. He is near to all who call upon him. In truth, he fulfils the desire of those who fear him, and he hears their cry and saves them.

For, when Satan asked it, the Lord did not give Job into his hands that he might perish but that, with his help, he might conquer this most wicked enemy, and so win for himself the palm of victory, and leave a just punishment to his enemy for his malice.

The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass him, that power might be made perfect in weakness.

Nor should we pass over in silence the fact that it is said that Mordecai could not enter the king’s palace wearing sackcloth, but merely came to the entrance to the palace. For no one can enter the palace of the heavenly kingdom in the corruption of this present life.

But, in the meanwhile, everyone before the actual day of his death should knock at the gate of the kingdom by bodily mortification and compunction of heart, and thus at the hour of death enter the Lord’s paradise in joy.

Rabanus Maurus (c.780-856): Commentary on Esther, 7 (PL 109:654);from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of Week 24 in Ordinary Time, Year 2

Rabanus Maurus: No One Learns Anything through Speech unless the Mind is Anointed with the Spirit Monday, Nov 7 2011 

(On Jeremiah 36)

In the Gospel he who is Truth himself says to his disciples:

When you stand before kings and princes, do not think how you are to speak, or what you are to say; what you are to say will be given you at the time, for it is not you who will be speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

We must realise that the grace of the Holy Spirit is necessary not only for those who teach but also for those who are taught.

Unless the Spirit is present in the heart of the listener, the teacher is wasting his breath.

Unless there is a teacher within us, the teacher without works in a vacuum.

In Church we all hear the same voice speaking, but all do not understand it in the same way.

Since there is no difference in what is said, why is there a difference in our understanding of it, unless there is an interior teacher giving certain people special instruction through their understanding of words of admonition addressed to all?

Concerning this grace of the Holy Spirit, John says: His anointing will teach you everything.

No one learns anything through speech, therefore, unless the mind is anointed with the Spirit.

Because King Jehoiachim and his servants were not inwardly illumined by the grace of the Holy Spirit who inspired the Prophet, their bodily ears could hear the words of God, but the ears of the heart were deaf to them.

It is this interior listening which our Lord demands in the Gospel when he says: Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

One has to marvel at the blindness of the human mind and the wickedness of the hardened heart.

Those whom salutary admonitions should have filled with compunction and sorrow for their sins were at pains to burn the scroll containing the words of the Lord.

They also took every opportunity to insult the Prophet whom they ought to have honoured for his inspired teaching and admonitions.

And why did they do this? Was it not because there was in them the sort of wicked spirit that always resists grace?

Yet human pride is impotent when it sets itself to resist divine sovereignty.

An earthly King gave orders for the Prophet and his scribe to be arrested and sent to prison;

the King of heaven shielded his blameless saints from human malice so that they came to no harm.

Rabanus Maurus (c.780-856): Commentary on Jeremiah, 13 (PL 111:1073-75); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of Week 30 in Ordinary Time, Year 1

Rabanus Maurus: Jesus Enlightens the Minds of All Believers with Heavenly Light Tuesday, Jun 21 2011 

Let me summarise briefly everything that is said about Samson.

Samson, who in his day was a Nazirite of the Lord, is allegorically a type of Christ; first, because his birth was foretold by an angel;

secondly, because he was called a Nazirite and delivered Israel from its foes;

and, finally, because he overthrew their Temple, causing many thousands of people who had mocked him to perish.

As the birth of Samson was foretold by an angel, so the Lord’s bodily birth was foretold by the Prophets, as well as by the angel who said to Mary:

Hail, Mary, full of grace; you have conceived in your womb and will bear a son, and you shall call him ‘Emmanuel’, for he shall save his people from their sins.

The name ‘Samson’ means ‘sun’.

But our Redeemer too is called ‘sun’; listen to how the Prophet thus names the Lord Jesus: The sun of righteousness shall rise over you, and there will be healing in its wings.

The Lord Jesus is truly the Sun of Righteousness, for he enlightens the minds of all believers with heavenly light.

He is the true Nazirite and Holy one of God, and it is only by analogy with him that this other man was called a Nazirite.

When Samson was travelling to the wedding he encountered a roaring lion. As he travelled to a foreign people in quest of a wife, a lion came out to meet him and he killed it.

Who should we see foreshadowed by Samson if not Christ who, when about to gather the Church from among the Gentiles, said: Rejoice, for I have overcome the world.

What does it mean that Samson took honey from the mouth of ­the slain lion except that, as we ourselves see, the nations of the earthly kingdom who formerly raged against Christ have lost their ­savagery and, moved by the sweetness of the Gospel preaching make their votive offerings?

Also significant is what we see in ­Samson’s own person: he killed few in his lifetime, but countless ­were the enemies he slew when he died by destroying the Temple.

So too the Lord in his lifetime rescued few from the arrogance of unbelief, but he rescued many when the temple of his body was ­destroyed;

and those Gentiles who were arrogant and whom he bore with in his lifetime, he laid low by his death.

Rabanus Maurus (c.780-856): Commentary on Judges, 2.20 (PL 108:1198); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Sunday of Week 12 in Ordinary Time, Year1.