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Two Fathers on today’s readings

And a little commentary too.  But first, St. Ambrose:

Many apostatizing from Christianity, the brightness of the faith will be dimmed by this cloud of apostasy: since the heavenly Sun grows dim or shines in splendour according to my faith.  And as in its monthly eclipse the moon, by reason of the earth coming between it and the sun, disappears from view, so likewise the holy Church, when the vices of the flesh stand in the way of the celestial light, can no longer borrow the splendour of His divine light from the Sun of Christ.  And in the persecutions it was invariably the love of this life that stood in the path of the Divine Sun.  Also the stars, that is, men surrounded by the praise of their fellow Christians, shall fall, as the bitterness of persecution mounts up; which must however come to pass, until the number of the faithful is made up; for so the good are proved and the weak made known.

And second, St. Ephraem:

Be watchful of they enemy, lest he pierce your heart with some obstinate and unfitting desire.  If he seeks to possess your soul as a field, and places there his unclean thoughts, resist and oppose him with the shield of faith.  Put on the helmet of hope.  Draw the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.  And so armed against the enemy, stand fast, and be not unwatchful in the battle, but show yourself sober and vigilant in all things.  For we are not ignorant of his designs.  Rejoice always in the Lord, as it is written.  Let your modesty be known to all men (Phil iv. 4-5).  Let the fear of the Lord have place in your heart.  But be not a timid soldier, nor a slothful, lazy workman.  Do not reject they crown.  Time is short, but judgment is long.

The first thing I noticed in these quotes is just how much more willing the Fathers were to believe it possible for souls to be lost.  Today so often we hear only about the great Mercy of God without ever hearing about His Justice.  To be sure, Jesus tells us He “did not come to condemn the world but to save the world” (Jn 12:47) but He also warns us not to be like the foolish virgins (Mt 25:1-13) or those found without their wedding garments (Mt 22:1-14).

God’s Mercy is incomplete without His Justice – indeed it cannot make sense.  To risk a pun, it is an injustice to talk about God’s Mercy without simultaneously talking about His Justice.  After all, without a sense of punishment due to sin what purpose can Mercy serve?  So please, all you catechists out there, do God the justice of giving the whole picture.  That would be the merciful thing to do.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Owen November 29, 2009, 3:39 pm

    Ephesians 4:15 – what most people forget about this verse, which directly relates to your post topic, is that without speaking truth we are not fully speaking in love. Love is not the absence of truth. No wonder we should work out our salvation in fear and trembling. Thanks for the good post.

  • frival November 29, 2009, 3:41 pm

    How very true. If God is Truth and God is Love then the fullness of the one must be the fullness of the other and simultaneously any lack in one will result in a lack of the other. Thank you Owen, excellent point.

  • susie November 29, 2009, 4:33 pm

    Just found you on O’s site. Good stuff. I couldn’t agree more! Well said. I’m so Sick & tired of the “la la la love” talk…w/out any mention of “hell” or “sin” any more. Our parish priest, as wonderful as he is, seems to really lean heavily toward all the “love talk” and never the “sin” and possibility of LOSING OUR SOULS. St. Alphonsus would cringe as would every other Saint and Doctor of the Church with the “sloppy” belief in the mercy w/out justice. I was recently talking about this w/ a dear friend. Great post! God bless.

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