Saturday, July 22, 2023

Saint Mary Magdalene: Seeking the Lord amid the darkness of this world

Noli me tangere, Tiziano

1 In my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and found him not.
2 I will rise, and will go about the city: in the streets and the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and I found him not.
3 The watchmen who keep the city, found me: Have you seen him, whom my soul loveth?
4 When I had a little passed by them, I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him: and I will not let him go, till I bring him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that bore me.”

De Canticis Canticorum.
Song 3:1-4 

“Mary Magdalen, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, through love of the truth, washed away in her tears the defilement of her sins, and the words of the Truth are fulfilled which He spake Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much. She who had remained chilly in sin, became fiery through love. When even His disciples went away again unto their own home, Mary still stood without at the sepulchre of Christ, weeping. She sought Him Whom her soul loved, but she found Him not. She searched for Him with tears; she yearned with strong desire for Him Who, she believed, had been taken away. And thus it befell her, that being the only one who had remained to seek Him, she was the only one that saw Him. It is the truth that the backbone of a good work is perseverance.

 “At first when she sought Him, she found Him not; she went on searching, and so it came to pass that she found Him; and this was so, to the end that her longing might grow in earnestness, and so in its earnestness might find what it sought. Hence is it that the Bride in the Song of Songs saith as representing the Church: By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth. We seek on our bed for Him Whom our soul loveth, when, having got some little rest in this world, we still sigh for the Presence of our Redeemer but it is by night that we so seek Him, for though our mind may be on the alert for Him, yet still He is hidden from our eyes by the darkness that now is.

“But if we find not Him Whom our soul loveth, it remaineth that we should rise and go about the city, that is, by thought and questioning, go through the holy Church of the elect seek Him in the streets, and in the broad ways, that is, walk anxiously looking about us both in the narrow and the broad places, that if we can, we may find His footsteps there for there are some even of those who live for the world, from whom something may be learnt to be imitated by a godly man. As we thus go wakefully about, the watchmen, that keep the city, find us; the holy Fathers, who are the watchmen of the bulwarks of the Church, come to meet our good endeavours, and to teach us either by their words or by their writings. And it needeth but a little to pass from them, but we find Him Whom our soul loveth (a little we must pass,) for albeit our Redeemer in lowliness became a man among men, yet by right of His Divine Nature He is still above men.“

From the Sermons of Pope St. Gregory the Great.
25th on the Gospels. 

Thursday, July 20, 2023

On “Spiritual Childhood” by St John Chrysostom

From the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

At that time, there were brought unto Jesus little children that He should put His Hands on them, and pray… and Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belong the kingdom of heaven…’ ” Matt 19:13-21 

“Wherefore did the disciples rebuke them that brought them From an idea of His dignity. What therefore did He To teach them to be lowly, and to be above the niceness of the world, He took the little children, and embraced them in His Arms, and declared that of such is the kingdom of heaven as also He had said above, xviii. 3, 4. And we also, if we would fain be heirs of the kingdom of heaven, let us seek with great earnestness this virtue. For this is the highest peak of philosophy, to be simple and wise this is the life of an Angel. The mind of a little child is free from all the diseases of the mind a little child keepeth no remembrance of injuries, but goeth unto such as have inflicted them, as if unto friends, and as if nothing had happened. Although his mother give him stripes, yet a little child ever seeketh her, and putteth her before all.

“If thou wert to show him a Queen adorned with her crown, he would not prefer her before his own mother, in raiment how faded soever, and he would rather see her, albeit unkempt, than the Queen in all her glorious apparel. For his use is to account of things whether they be his own, or of others, not by the standard of poverty and riches, but by that of love only. He seeketh no more than he needeth. When he is satisfied with milk, he leaveth the pap. The things that press upon us, such as the loss of money, and the like, do not press upon him, nor do the same transitory things that please us, please him, neither doth he gaze with admiration at loveliness of shape. Therefore Christ said: Of such is the kingdom of heaven, to make us do by force of will what little children do by nature.

“The Pharisees' usual springs of action were spite and vanity; therefore doth the Lord everywhere command His disciples to be simple, and in teaching the one, pointeth silently at the other class. Nothing breedeth pride so much as princedom and precedence. Since, then, His disciples were to receive much honour throughout all the world, He warneth their minds beforehand, and letteth them not stumble into the snare of men, nor go seeking for honours from the mob, nor put themselves forward before others. It is true, these may seem little things, but they give occasion for very great evils. It was when they were placed in these positions, that the Pharisees fell into their direst misfortunes from looking for salutations, and foremost or good places, they got into a keen desire of distinction, and from that into ungodliness.”