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.

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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.