Peter Chrysologus: Wounded by Love Friday, Dec 13 2013 

Church FathersAs God sees the world tottering to ruin because of fear, he acts unceasingly to bring it back by love, invite it by grace, to hold it by charity and clasp it firmly with affection.

Hence, he washes the earth grown old in evil with the avenging flood.

He calls Noah the father of a new world, speaks to him gently and gives him kindly confidence.

He gives him fatherly instruction about the present and consoles him with good hope for the future.

He did not give orders but instead shared in the work of enclosing together in the ark all living creatures on the earth.

In this way the love of being together was to banish the fear born of slavery. What had been saved by a shared work was to be preserved by a community of love.

God calls Abraham from among the nations and makes his name great. He also makes him the father of those who believe, accompanies him on his journeys, and takes care of him among foreign peoples.

He enriches him with possessions, honours him with triumphs, and binds himself to him by promises. He snatches him from harm, looks after him hospitably, and astonishes him with a son he had given up hope of ever having.

All this he does, so that, filled with so many good things, and drawn by the great sweetness of divine love, Abraham might learn to love God and not to be afraid of him, to worship him by love, not by trembling in fear.

He comforts the fugitive Jacob in his sleep. On his way back he calls him to the contest and grasps him with a wrestler’s arms. This was to teach him to love and not to fear the father of the contest.

He invites Moses to be the liberator of his people, calling him with a fatherly voice and speaking to him father’s love.

The events that we have recalled where the hearts of men were fired with the flame of the love of God and their senses flooded to intoxication with that love, led them, wounded by love, to begin to want to look upon God with their bodily eyes.

How could the narrowness of human vision enclose God whom the world cannot contain?

The law of love has no thought about what will be, what ought to be or what can be. Love knows nothing about judgement, is beyond reason, and is incapable of moderation.

Love takes no relief from the fact that its object is beyond possibility, nor is it cured by difficulties. […] Love cannot bear not to have sight of what it loves.

Peter Chrysologus (c.380–c.450): Sermon 147; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Thursday of the 2nd Week in Advent, Year 2.

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Peter Chrysologus: The Adoration of the Magi, the Baptism in the Jordan, and the Wedding at Cana Thursday, Jan 10 2013 

Church FathersThe great events we celebrate today disclose and reveal in different ways the fact that God himself took a human body.

[…] In choosing to be born for us, God chose to be known by us. He therefore reveals himself in this way, in order that this great sacrament of his love may not be an occasion for us of great misunderstanding.

Today the Magi find, crying in a manger, the one they have followed as he shone in the sky. Today the Magi see clearly, in swaddling clothes, the one they have long awaited as he lay hidden among the stars.

Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body.

As they look, they believe and do not question, as their symbolic gifts bear witness: incense for God, gold for a king, myrrh for one who is to die.

So the Gentiles, who were the last, become the first: the faith of the Magi is the first fruits of the belief of the Gentiles.

Today Christ enters the Jordan to wash away the sin of the world. John himself testifies that this is why he has come: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.

Today a servant lays his hand on the Lord, a man lays his hand on God, John lays his hand on Christ, not to forgive but to receive forgiveness.

Today, as the psalmist prophesied: The voice of the Lord is heard above the waters. What does the voice say? This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.

Today the Holy Spirit hovers over the waters in the likeness of a dove. A dove announced to Noah that the flood had disappeared from the earth; so now a dove is to reveal that the world’s shipwreck is at an end forever.

The sign is no longer an olive-shoot of the old stock: instead, the Spirit pours out on Christ’s head the full richness of a new anointing by the Father, to fulfil what the psalmist had prophesied: Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.

Today Christ works the first of his signs from heaven by turning water into wine. But water has still to be changed into the sacrament of his blood, so that Christ may offer spiritual drink from the chalice of his body, to fulfil the psalmist’s prophecy: How excellent is my chalice, warming my spirit.

Peter Chrysologus (c.380–c.450): Sermon 160 (PL 52, 620-622) from the Office of Readings for the Monday between the Feasts of the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord @ Crossroads Initiative.

Peter Chrysologus: Adam and Christ Monday, Jul 30 2012 

There were two founders of the human race, Adam and Christ; two men alike in body but unlike in dignity; completely similar in physical make­up but totally dissimilar in origin.

St Paul says that the first man, Adam, became a living soul; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

The first was made by the second from whom he also received the breath of life; the second was his own creator and fashioner, for he did not look for life from another, but was himself the sole source of life for everyone.

The first was moulded from the common earth; the second came forth from the blessed womb of the Virgin.

In the first earth became human; in the second human nature was raised to divinity.

What more can I say? It was the second Adam who stamped his own image upon the first when he created him.

That is why he assumed the role of the first Adam, so that what he had fashioned in his own image should not perish.

There was then a first Adam and a last Adam. The first had a beginning, the last is unbounded, for the last Adam is in fact the first, as he himself says: I am the first and the last.

I am the first, because I have no beginning; I am the last, because I have no end.

But it is not the spiritual that comes first,says the Apostle, but the physical, and then the spiritual.

[…] The first man, says the Apostle, being made of the earth is earthly; the second who comes from heaven is heavenly. The earthly man is the pattern for earthly people; the heavenly man for heavenly people.

But how is it possible to receive a nature with which one is not born? How if not by ceasing to be what we were and persevering in what we have become through rebirth?

For this, my friends, the heavenly Spirit fructifies the virginal womb of the font with the invisible communication of his radiance, so that it may bring forth as heavenly offspring, and transform into the likeness of their Creator, those who had sunk into a miserable earthly condition because they were fashioned from slime.

Therefore, now that we have been reborn and refashioned in the image of our Creator, let us do as the Apostle says: As we have borne the image of the earthly man, so let us also bear the image of the heavenly man.

Let us be completely like our Creator, not in the majesty which belongs to him alone, but in the innocence, simplic­ity, gentleness, patience, humility, and friendliness which he has deigned to share with us.

Peter Chrysologus (c.380 – c.450): Sermon 117, 1-2, 4-6 (CCL 24A:709-12); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Saturday of the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I.

Peter Chrysologus: Let Your Heart be an Altar Tuesday, May 17 2011 

Listen now to what the Apostle urges us to do: I appeal to you, he says, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice.

By this exhortation of his, Paul has raised all men to priestly status.

How marvellous is the priesthood of the Christian, for he is both the victim that is offered on his own behalf, and the priest who makes the offering.

He does not need to go beyond himself to seek what he is to immolate to God: with himself and in himself he brings the sacrifice he is to offer God for himself.

The victim remains and the priest remains, always one and the same.

Immolated, the victim still lives: the priest who immolates cannot kill.

Truly it is an amazing sacrifice in which a body is offered without being slain and blood is offered without being shed.

The Apostle says: I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice.

Brethren, this sacrifice follows the pattern of Christ’s sacrifice by which he gave his body as a living immolation for the life of the world.

He really made his body a living sacrifice, because, though slain, he continues to live.

In such a victim death receives its ransom, but the victim remains alive.

Death itself suffers the punishment.

This is why death for the martyrs is actually a birth, and their end a beginning.

Their execution is the door to life, and those who were thought to have been blotted out from the earth shine brilliantly in heaven.

Paul says: I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a sacrifice, living and holy.

The prophet said the same thing: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but you have prepared a body for me.

Each of us is called to be both a sacrifice to God and his priest.

Do not forfeit what divine authority confers on you.

Put on the garment of holiness, gird yourself with the belt of chastity.

Let Christ be your helmet, let the cross on your forehead be your unfailing protection.

Your breastplate should be the knowledge of God that he himself has given you.

Keep burning continually the sweet smelling incense of prayer.

Take up the sword of the Spirit. Let your heart be an altar.

Then, with full confidence in God, present your body for sacrifice.

God desires not death, but faith; God thirsts not for blood, but for self-surrender.

God is appeased not by slaughter, but by the offering of your free will.

Peter Chrysologus (c.380 – c.450): Sermon 108, from the Office of Readings for Tuesday of the 4th week of Easter, @ Crossroads Initiative.

Peter Chrysologus: Turning the Other Cheek Saturday, Feb 12 2011 

I say to you: Do not resist an evil man.

When Christ says this, he means that we should not repay one offence with another but overcome it by virtue, thus extinguishing the fire of anger while it is still only a spark.

For if it becomes a full raging blaze it will not be put out without blood being shed.

Anger is overcome by mild­ness, rage is extinguished by gentleness, cruelty is subverted by goodness.

Patience punishes impa­tience, the acceptance of insults halts strife, and humility over­throws pride.

Therefore, if you wish to overcome offences, take up the weapons not of rage but of religion.

[…] The sickness of sin, vice, wickedness and impiety entered the deranged souls of men and with its savage rage drove out all knowledge, sense, and reason.

It caused the nations of the world to flee from God, follow demons, and worship creatures; to spurn the creator, desire evil and bring death to the living.

Consequently, the only way of healing the race was to send men, armed with all the devotion and patience of the heavenly physi­cian.

These people would endure the insults of their frenzied fellows, put up with their curses, bear their blows, and let themselves be wounded by them.

This they would do until they could bring their fellows back to sobriety and sense and thus enable them to seek God, flee demons, realise their illnesses, desire heal­ing, reject vice, acquire virtue, cease from wounding others, abhor bloodshed, reject killing, and restore life.

[…] So et us obey Christ and with all the strength afforded by religion let us put up with the bites and blows and burdens heaped on us by frenzied brethren.

In this way we may deliver them from punishment and win an everlasting reward for our patience.

Let us not refuse to accept from our fellow servants what our Lord deigned to accept from and for his servants.

He did not withdraw his face from their blows; to those who took his tunic and his coat he gave his body as well; and when they imposed forced labour on him, he freely and gladly followed them to death.

Therefore, if the Lord thought it right that he should suffer, can a servant consider it beneath him or her?

If we think so, we are mistaken, brethren, we are mistaken; for those who will not do what the Lord commanded will wait in vain for what he promised.

Peter Chrysologus (c.380 – c.450): Sermon 38 (CCL 24:217-9);  from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Saturday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I.

 

Peter Chrysologus: Christ Is Born That By His Birth He Might Restore Our Nature Wednesday, Dec 29 2010 

A virgin conceived, bore a son, and yet remained a virgin.

This is no common occurrence, but a sign; no reason here, but God’s power, for he is the cause, and not nature.

It is a special event, not shared by others; it is divine, not human.

Christ’s birth was not necessity, but an expression of omnipotence, a sacrament of piety for the redemption of men.

[…] Why then, man, are you so worthless in your own eyes and yet so precious to God?

Why render yourself such dishonor when you are honored by him?

Why do you ask how you were created and do not seek to know why you were made?

Was not this entire visible universe made for your dwelling?

It was for you that the light dispelled the overshadowing gloom.

For your sake was the night regulated and the day measured, and for you were the heavens embellished with the varying brilliance of the sun, the moon and the stars.

The earth was adorned with flowers, groves and fruit; and the constant marvellous variety of lovely living things was created in the air, the fields, and the seas for you, lest sad solitude destroy the joy of God’s new creation.

And the Creator still works to devise things that can add to your glory.

He has made you in his image that you might in your person make the invisible Creator present on earth.

He has made you his legate, so that the vast empire of the world might have the Lord’s representative.

Then in his mercy God assumed what he made in you.

He wanted now to be truly manifest in man, just as he had wished to be revealed in man as in an image.

Now he would be in reality what he had submitted to be in symbol.

And so Christ is born that by his birth he might restore our nature.

He became a child, was fed, and grew that he might inaugurate the one perfect age to remain forever as he had created it.

He supports man that man might no longer fall.

And the creature he had formed of earth he now makes heavenly; and what he had endowed with a human soul he now vivifies to become a heavenly spirit.

In this way he fully raised man to God, and left in him neither sin, nor death, nor travail, nor pain, nor anything earthly, with the grace of our Lord Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, for all the ages of eternity.

Peter Chrysologus (c.380 – c.450): Sermon 148, PL 52, 596-598, from the Office of Readings for the memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus on July 30 @ Crossroads Initiative.