Richard of St Victor: “Rejoice in the Lord Always, Again I Say Rejoice” Saturday, Dec 22 2012 

Hugh_of_St_Victor“How great” is “the multitude of sweetness, which God has hidden for those who love him” (Ps. 30:20).  “He has hidden,” it says.  Therefore, why marvel if any lover of the world does not know that which God has hidden for those who love Him?

[…] For it is manna, hidden and completely unknown except to those who taste it.  For it is such sweetness of the heart, and not of the flesh, that no carnal person whomever is able to have known it.  “You have put joy in my heart” (Ps. 4:7).

Corporeal delights, like the body itself, can be seen by the bodily eyes; eyes of the flesh cannot see the delights of the heart and also not even the heart itself.  Therefore by what way could he know spiritual delights unless he makes a point of entering into his heart and dwelling within?

Therefore it is said to him: “Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matt. 25:21).  This inner joy is for spiritual persons.  That sweetness which is felt within is that son of Leah….  For joy is one of the principal affections….

However, when it has been set in order, this can rightly be numbered among the sons of Jacob and Leah.  For we certainly have ordered and true joy when we rejoice concerning true and inner goods.

The Apostle wished to animate us to the desire for such offspring when he said: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).  And the Prophet: “Rejoice in the Lord and exult you just, and glory all you with an upright heart” (Ps. 31:11).

For such offspring Leah gladly despised the mandrakes so that she would be able to have such a son.  In fact, the mind that delights in the praise of men does not deserve to experience what inner joy is.

However, after the birth of Gad and Asher, Leah rightly gave birth to such a son because except by means of abstinence and patience the human mind cannot reach true joy.

Therefore it is necessary that he who wishes to rejoice concerning the truth exclude not only false pleasure but also vain disquiet.  For he who until now delights in the lowest things is especially unworthy of inner enjoyment, and he who is disquieted by vain fear is not able fully to enjoy spiritual sweetness.

Truth condemned false joy when he said: “Woe to you who now laugh” (Luke 6:25).  He extirpated vain disquiet when he admonished his hearers, saying: “Do not fear those who kill the body, for they are not able to kill the soul” (Matt. 10:28).

Richard of St Victor (d. 1173): The Twelve Patriarchs, c. 36,translated by Grover A. Zinn, Paulist Press @ Lectionary Central.

Hugh of St Victor: If We have Prepared a Place for Him, Jesus will Gladly Come to Us that He might Dwell in Us Wednesday, Dec 19 2012 

Hugh_of_St_VictorMaybe you are asking where this house of God is to be sought, and where it may be found.

God’s house is the whole world; God’s house is the Catholic Church; God’s house is also every faithful soul.

But God inhabits the world in one way, the Church in another, and every faithful soul in yet a third.

He is in the world as ruler of His kingdom; He is in the Church as head of the family in His own home; He is in the soul as the bridegroom in the wedding-chamber.

The heathen and the unbelievers are all of them in His house that is, in His kingdom; for through the power of His Godhead He maintains and governs all that He has made.

False believers are in His house that is, in the Church; for He entrusts participation in His mysteries to all whom He has called to faith.

But the truly faithful are in His house, or rather I should say they are His house, because by dwelling in them through love He owns and rules them.

We are all in His house by our very created condition. We are in His house through the faith whereby He called us. We are in His house through the love whereby He justified us.

If you are in the house of God by your origin only, the devil is there too along with you.

If you are in the house of God by faith, there is still chaff on your threshing-floor together with the wheat.

But if you are in the house of God through love, blessed are you, for not only are you in the house of God, but you yourself have begun to be His house, to the intent that He who made you may also dwell in you.

This is the abode of health, these are the dwellings of the righteous through which the voice of joy and exultation [Cf. Ps. 118, 15] ever rings, wherein the blessed dwell.

Of this, the prophet longed to see the beauty, in it he yearned to dwell, he was on fire with desire for it [Cf. Ps. 84, 2].

If then this dwelling has begun to be in us, let us go in and abide with Him. There, where He ‘whose place is in peace’ [Ps. 76, 2] deigns to make His dwelling, we shall find peace and rest.

But if it has not yet begun to be in us, then let us build it; for, if we have prepared a place for Him, He will gladly come to us who made us that He might dwell in us, even Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hugh of St Victor (c.1096-1141): On the Moral Interpretation of the Ark of Noah, 3 Fr Luke Dysinger, OSB.

Hugh of St Victor: The Repentant Sinner Begins to Trust God’s Mercy when he Feels his Heart Cheered by the Consolation of the Holy Spirit Thursday, Nov 29 2012 

Continued from here…

We have shown you these stages of the disease itself – a wavering heart, unstable and restless;

the cause of the disease – which is clearly love of the world;

and the remedy of the disease – which is the love of God.

And to these must be added a fourth, namely, the application of the remedy, that is, the way in which we may attain to the love of God.

[…] The difference between the love of God and the love of the world is this:

the love of this world seems at the outset sweet, but has a bitter end;

the love of God, by contrast, is bitter to begin with, but is full of sweetness in its end.

This, in a most beautiful allegorical sense, was uttered of our Bridegroom’s wedding.

This is shown by the Gospel when it says: ‘Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine, and only after men have drunk well that which is inferior; but thou hast kept the good wine until now’ [cf John 2:10].

Every man, that is, carnal man, does indeed set forth good wine at the beginning, for he finds a certain spurious sweetness in his pleasure.

But once the rage of his evil longing has saturated his mind, then he provides inferior wine to drink, because a sudden pricking of conscience assails his thought, which till now had enjoyed a spurious delight, and grievously torments him.

Our Bridegroom, on the other hand, offers the good wine last when He allows the heart, which He intends to fill with the sweetness of His love, first to pass beneath the bitter harrow of afflictions.

He does this, so that, having tasted bitterness, the heart may quaff with greater eagerness the most sweet cup of charity.

And this is ‘the first sign’ [cf John 2:11] which Jesus made in His disciples’ presence; and they believed in Him.

For the repentant sinner first begins to trust God’s mercy when he feels his heart cheered by the consolation of the Holy Spirit after long weariness of grief.

Let us then see what we can do to attain the love of God, for He will integrate and stabilize our hearts, He will restore our peace and give us ceaseless joy.

But nobody can love that which he does not know; and so, if we desire to love God, we must first make it our business to know Him, and this especially since He cannot be known without being loved.

For so great is the beauty of His loveliness that no one who sees Him can fail to love Him.

Hugh of St Victor (c.1096-1141): On the Moral Interpretation of the Ark of Noah, 1,2 Fr Luke Dysinger, OSB.

Hugh of St Victor: The Restlessness of the Human Heart Friday, Nov 23 2012 

When I was one day sitting with the assembled brethren…, we began with one accord to marvel at the instability and restlessness of the human heart, and to sigh over it.

The brethren earnestly entreated that they might be shown the cause of these unstable movements in man’s heart, and…begged to be taught if such a serious evil as this could be countered by any skill or by the practice of some discipline.

[…] It is the property of divine grace to bring about this work, and that possession of such grace comes about not so much by man’s activity as by the gift of God and the inbreathing of the Holy Spirit.

Nevertheless, I know that God would have us work along with Him, and that He so offers the gifts of His loving-kindness to the thankful, and that from the thankless He often takes away the very things that formerly He gave.

[…] The first man [Adam], then, was made in such a way that, if he had not sinned, the power of contemplation would have kept him always in his Maker’s presence.

By always seeing Him he would thus always have loved Him, by always loving Him he would always have cleaved to Him, and, by always cleaving to Him who is immortal, he too would have possessed in Him life without end.

[…] But he was banished from the face of the Lord when, smitten with the blindness of ignorance through his sin, he came forth from the inward light of contemplation.

And the more he forgot the sweetness of supernal things, for which he had already lost the taste, the more did he bend his spirit down to earthly desires.

[…] Every temptation that assails it overthrows the soul that is bereft of the divine assistance….

The human heart, which had hitherto kept its stability in cleaving to divine love and remained one in the love of the One, was as it were divided into as many channels as there were objects that it craved….

And that is how it happens that the soul, not knowing how to love its true good, is never able to maintain its stability.

Failing to find what it longs for in those things which it has, its desire is always reaching out in pursuit of the unattainable; and so it never has rest.

Therefore, from movement without stability is born toil without rest, travel without arrival; so that our heart is always restless till such time as it begins to cleave to Him, in whom it may both rejoice that its desire lacks nothing, and be assured that what it loves will last eternally.

Hugh of St Victor (c.1096-1141): On the Moral Interpretation of the Ark of Noah, 1,1 Fr Luke Dysinger, OSB.

Richard of St Victor: The Kingdom of Heaven is Like a Treasure Hidden in a Field Sunday, Oct 21 2012 

Does it go beyond comprehension that the kingdom of God is within us?

Behold, you say, the kingdom of heaven is within us but is gold within us in a similar way?

Why not, I say. So! Have you forgotten that the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field?

Behold, from what source an abundance of gold abounds abundantly to you.  You have it at hand.  Dig it up, if you will.

Go quickly, sell what you have, purchase this field, and seek the hidden treasure.

Whatever in the world you crave, whatever in the world you hesitate to part with, expend it freely for freedom of the heart.

After purchasing the field, dig in the depths of it, exulting no doubt like persons who dig up a treasure and rejoice greatly when they have discovered a sepulcher.

It is necessary to seek this treasure in the depths because wisdom is drawn from a hidden place.

But wretched me; from what source does gold come to me for the gilding, the crown, and the propitiatory? [Propitiatory – i.e. the mercy-seat in the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple, sprinkled with blood for purification.]

I do not have silver and gold, and from what and how can these things be made?

By what art, I ask, can I procure this gold for myself?

I am not able to dig; I blush to beg.  I know what I shall do.

I shall go quickly to my Father, the Father of mercies from whom comes every good gift and every perfect gift, because He who gives copiously to everyone and does not reproach them is rich toward all.

And so I pour out my prayer in His presence; I announce before Him my poverty and lack of gold; and I shall say to Him: “Lord, you know my lack of wisdom; my property is like as nothing before you; give me understanding, Lord, and I have gold and am rich.

“Since I am weak, guard my soul and I shall have a propitiatory of the sort I crave”.

O how great an abundance of gold existed for him who was able to sing the truth: “I have understood more than all who teach me.  I have understood more than the elders because I have sought your commandments” (Ps. 118:99-100).

O what kind of propitiatory he had who sang confidently before the Lord: “You have protected me from the assembly of the wicked, from the multitude of those working iniquity” (Ps. 63:3).

Richard of St Victor (d. 1173): The Mystical Ark, bk. 3, ch. 5,translated by Grover A. Zinn, Paulist Press @ Lectionary Central.

Richard of St Victor: Gathering the Wanderings of the Mind, and Fixing the Impulses of the Heart Monday, Oct 15 2012 

Let one who eagerly strives for contemplation of celestial things, who sighs for knowledge of divine things, learn to assemble the dispersed Israelites.

Let him endeavor to restrain the wanderings of the mind; let him be accustomed to remain in the innermost part of himself and to forget everything exterior.

Let him make a church, not only of desires but also of thoughts, in order that he may learn to love only true good and to think unceasingly of it alone: “In the churches bless God” (Ps. 67:27).

For in this twofold church, namely of thoughts and of desires, in this twofold concord of efforts and wills, Benjamin is carried away into the height, and the divinely inspired mind is raised to supernal things: “There is Benjamin a youth in ecstasy of mind” (Ps. 67:28).

Where do you think, except “in the churches”?  “In the churches bless God, the Lord of the fountains of Israel.  There is Benjamin a youth in ecstasy of mind” (Ps. 67:27-28).

Nevertheless each one must first make of his thoughts and desires a synagogue rather than a church.

You know well that synagogue means “congregation.”  Church means “convocation.”

It is one thing to drive some things together in one place without the will or against the will; it is another to run together spontaneously by themselves at the nod of the one who commands.

Insensible and brute beings can be congregated but they cannot be convoked.  Yet even a concourse of rational things themselves must occur spontaneously at a nod in order rightly to be called a convocation.

Thus you see how much difference there is between a convocation and a congregation, between church and synagogue.

Therefore if you perceive beforehand that your desires are becoming devoted to exterior delights and that your thoughts are being occupied with them incessantly, then you ought with great care to compel them to go within so that for a while you may at least make of them a synagogue.

As often as we gather the wanderings of the mind into a unity and fix all the impulses of the heart in one desire of eternity, what are we doing other than making a synagogue from that internal household?

But when that throng of our desires and thoughts, after being attracted by a taste of that internal sweetness, has already learned to run together spontaneously at the nod of reason and to remain fixed in the innermost depths, then it can certainly be judged worthy of the name of church.

Therefore let us learn to love only interior goods, let us learn to think often about them only, and without doubt we make churches such as we know that Benjamin loves.

Richard of St Victor (d. 1173): The Twelve Patriarchs, c. 84, translated by Grover A. Zinn, Paulist Press @ Lectionary Central.

Achard of St Victor: The Nine Transfigurations of Christ (3) – Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost Saturday, May 19 2012 

Continued from here…

The sixth transfiguration of the Lord was that of the resurrection, when he was transfigured from passion to impassibility, from death to immortality, and put on beauty and strength.

This was a vestige of what occurred on the mountain; that transfiguration was a foreshadowing of this one, as was noted above.

The seventh transfiguration was that of the appearance in which he showed himself to his disciples after his resurrection.

This appearance is called a transfiguration because he did not then show them the form of immortality, majesty, and glory which he then in fact had, but rather he appeared in the state, form, and shape he had when he was still mortal.

He did this so that they would recognize him, and believe that he had truly risen. If he had appeared in that glorious form they would not have recognized him, but would have thought he was someone else.

The eighth transfiguration is that of the ascension. Although it is not set down explicitly in writing, we should believe that in the ascension when, as the apostles were watching, ‘he was raised into heaven and a cloud received him’ (Acts 1:9-10), he revealed the form of his glory and majesty so that by doing so he could rouse the hearts of the disciples to follow him.

Hence it is also written: ‘As you have seen him going, so will he come’ (Acts 1:11).

Since he is to come in the form of majesty (Mt 25:31), we can conclude that he was seen to ascend in it as well.

His ninth transfiguration occurred on Pentecost day, in the spirit and hearts of his disciples, when the Holy Spirit descended upon them in tongues of fire and filled them with charity and love.

When they had received these endowments they no longer thought of Christ in the usual, fleshly way, but spiritually, even when they thought of his body.

They no longer thought about him as someone who worked miracles on earth in a mortal way, but as one seated in heaven at the right hand of Majesty.

We should describe this as a transfiguration of the apostles rather than of the Lord.

Achard of St Victor (c.1100- 1172): Sermon on the Transfiguration, from Works, tr. Hugh Feiss, OSB Cistercian Studies 165, (Cist. Publ., Kalamazoo, MI, 2001) pp. 191-200. 

Achard of St Victor: The Nine Transfigurations of Christ (2) – Transfiguration, Eucharist, Passion and Death Saturday, May 19 2012 

Continued from here…

The third transfiguration is that which occurred on the mountain; we dealt with it earlier.

The fourth transfiguration is called sacramental. It first occurred when he revealed himself at the supper in the form of bread and wine and offered himself to his disciples to be eaten, saying: ‘This is my body, take it and eat’ (Mk 14:22).

The same transfiguration occurs each day on the altar at the hands of the priest. So he added at that time: ‘Do this in memory of me’ (1Cor 11:24).

This transfiguration was prefigured when David changed his appearance before Achish, and pretending to be a stupid lunatic, and so transfigured himself. Scripture says that because of his fear he carried himself in his hands.’ Similarly, the Lord carried himself in his hands, veiled under the appearance of bread and wine.

His fifth transfiguration is that of his passion and death, by which he was transformed from having the capacity to suffer and die to actually suffering and dying; then there was ‘neither beauty nor comeliness in him’ (Is 53:2).

This is more properly called a disfiguration; we read that ‘his soul was sorrowful even to death’ (Mt 26:38).

Doubt exists whether his sorrow was immediately laid aside at his death or stayed with him during the three days before his resurrection, not because of his passion but because of compassion for those whom he descended into the underworld to liberate.

However, it does seem that his sorrow was swallowed up at death, since he said: ‘My soul is sorrowful even to death’, as though it would not be sorrowful after death.

Therefore, only the virtue of compassion, without passion, was in Christ during those three days, just as it always is in God.

Achard of St Victor (c.1100- 1172): Sermon on the Transfiguration, from Works, tr. Hugh Feiss, OSB Cistercian Studies 165, (Cist. Publ., Kalamazoo, MI, 2001) pp. 191-200. 

Achard of St Victor: The Nine Transfigurations of Christ (1) – Incarnation and Life Saturday, May 19 2012 

The Lord was not transfigured just this one time: certain transfigurations preceded and followed this one.

He was first transfigured when he came into the world from the bosom of the Father (Jn 1:18). ‘Although he was in the form of God, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave’ (Ph 2:6-7).

The eternal became temporal; the immense became small; the Creator, a creature; God, man; the maker, what was made.

This transfiguration is as great as the distance between God and man; it is immense and infinite.

We should note very carefully that the Lord is not said to be transfigured in such a way that he laid aside or emptied out his previous divine form, or in some way changed it, when he accepted the form of a slave.

Rather, he is called ‘transfigured’ because he did not appear to us in the form of God but in the human form that he assumed for our sake.

His second transfiguration occurred when ‘he was found human in appearance’ (Ph 2:7).

He not only came in human likeness by truth of nature and by participation in punishment, though not in guilt, but he was also found human in appearance; that is, he appeared like other people.

He lived as if he were weak and sinful, eating and drinking with sinners so that he was called a drunkard (Mt 11:19).

This is called the transfiguration of association; by it he had compassion on the weak, and adapted himself to them, so that he could draw them to himself and impress his form upon them.

This second transfiguration is much less drastic than the first. The first was from the mountain of eternity into the vale of tears; the second occurs within that vale of misery.

Achard of St Victor (c.1100- 1172): Sermon on the Transfiguration, from Works, tr. Hugh Feiss, OSB Cistercian Studies 165, (Cist. Publ., Kalamazoo, MI, 2001) pp. 191-200.