Chromatius of Aquileia: The Unhappiness of the Soul which is Ruled by the Body Saturday, Feb 11 2012 

As you have just heard in the reading, the saintly Joseph was of good appearance but even better in mind, because he was both physically and mentally chaste.

He shone in outward appearance but even more so in the excellence of his mind.

And though for many people good looks are usually a hindrance to a good life, they could not harm this saintly man because his handsome appearance was governed by the excellence of his mind.

So the soul must rule the body, not the body the soul, because the soul is mistress of the body; the body is really a servant to the soul.

Hence the unhappiness of the soul which is ruled by the body, and after being mistress becomes servant, because it breaks faith with the Lord and submits to the slavery of sin.

But the soul of the Patriarch Joseph was faithful to its dominion, and there was no question of the body usurping its power.

In fact when his master’s wife, an unchaste woman, asked him to lie with her he refused to do so, because even in his state of slavery he had not lost command of his soul. As a result he was falsely accused and put into prison.

But the saintly man regarded that prison as a palace, or rather was himself a palace in the prison, because where there is faith, chastity and modesty, there is the palace of Christ, the Temple of God, the abode of the Holy Spirit.

So if any man prides himself on his good looks, or any woman boasts of the beauty of her body, let the man follow Joseph’s example and the woman Susanna’s.

Let them be chaste in body and mind; then they will also be beautiful not only to their fellow human beings but to God.

For there are three examples of chastity in the Church, so that all have someone to copy: Joseph, Susanna, and Mary; Joseph for men to copy, Susanna for women, and Mary for virgins.

Chromatius of Aquileia (d. 406/7): Sermon 24.2 (SC 64:70-72); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Sunday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2.


Chromatius of Aquileia: Christ Refreshed Human Hearts with the Waters of Eternal Life Wednesday, Jul 20 2011 

Elijah was sent to a widow in the Sidonian village of Zarephath to give her food and save her from starving.

Let us consider how perfectly this woman prefigures the Church.

Before Elijah came to her, she and her children were suffering from hunger.

Undoubt­edly she suffered also from the worst kind of hunger, because Christ the bread of life had not yet descended from heaven; the Word of God had not yet taken a body from the Virgin.

Listen to the Prophet’s saying: I shall send famine on the land; not hunger for bread or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord.

Any who suffer hunger for lack of the divine word do indeed risk dying of starvation.

There is a great difference between being deprived of earthly bread and being deprived of the divine word.

Lack of earthly bread can kill only the body, but lack of the divine word ruins the soul as well as killing the body.

Unsatisfied hunger for earthly bread removes us from this present life; but unsatisfied hunger for the divine word excludes us from eternal life.

Such was the peril faced by the Church before she received Christ, but when she received him she escaped the danger of everlasting death.

Before the coming of Christ, this woman did indeed have a little flour and oil, that is, the teaching of the Law and the Prophets, but that could not have saved her if the grace of Christ had not fulfilled the Law and the Prophets.

Hence the Lord’s saying in the Gospel: I have come not to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfil them.

The Law and the Prophets were powerless to save us from death, except through the Passion of Christ.

So it was that when the Church received Christ, flour, oil, and wood began to abound; flour signifying the bread of the word; oil the gift of divine mercy; and wood the mystery of the venerable Cross through which the ­heavenly rain is given to us.

For this is what Elijah says to the woman: You shall not lack flour or oil until the Lord brings rain upon the land.

Our Lord and Saviour brought us rain from heaven, that is, the teaching of the Gospel, and by it he refreshed human hear­ts, dry as a thirsty land, with the waters of eternal life.

Chromatius of Aquileia (d. 406/7): Sermon 25, 5-6 (SC 164:84-88); 3) from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Friday of the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I