Now that we are reborn, as I have said, in the likeness of our Lord, and have indeed been adopted by God as his children, let us put on the complete image of our Creator so as to be wholly like him, not in the glory that he alone possesses, but in innocence, simplicity, gentleness, patience, humility, mercy, harmony, those qualities in which he chose to become, and to be, one with us.
Jesu, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.
Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee Thou art good,
To them that find Thee all in all.
We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.
Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Wherever our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.
O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed over the world Thy holy light.
Bernard of Clairvaux, 12th Century (Jesu dulcis memoria); tr. Ray Palmer, 1858
How blessed, how fortunate, are those servants whom the Lord will find watchful when he comes. Blessed is the time of waiting when we stay awake for the Lord, the Creator of the universe, who fills all things and transcends all things.
How I wish he would awaken me, his humble servant, from the sleep of slothfulness, even though I am of little worth. How I wish he would enkindle me with that fire of divine love. The flames of his love burn beyond the stars; the longing for his overwhelming delights and the divine fire ever burn within me!
How I wish I might deserve to have my lantern always burning at night in the temple of my Lord, to give light to all who enter the house of my God. Give me, I pray you, Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son and my God, that love that does not fail so that my lantern, burning within me and giving light to others, may be always lighted and never extinguished.
Jesus, our most loving Savior, be pleased to light our lanterns, so that they may burn for ever in your temple, receiving eternal light from you, the eternal light, to lighten our darkness and to ward off from us the darkness of the world.
Give your light to my lantern, I beg you, my Jesus, so that by its light I may see that holy of holies which receives you as the eternal priest entering among the columns of your great temple. May I ever see you only, look on you, long for you; may I gaze with love on you alone, and have my lantern shining and burning always in your presence.
Loving Savior, be pleased to show yourself to us who knock, so that in knowing you we may love only you, love you alone, desire you alone, contemplate only you day and night, and always think of you. Inspire in us the depth of love that is fitting for you to receive as God. So may your love pervade our whole being, possess us completely, and fill all our senses, that we may know no other love but love for you who are everlasting. May our love be so great that the many waters of sky, land and sea cannot extinguish it in us: many waters could not extinguish love.
May this saying be fulfilled in us also, at least in part, by your gift, Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
From an instruction by Saint Columban, abbot
Light everlasting in the temple of the eternal high priest
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
For all their faults, one thing that a saint is, in the classical sense of the word, is someone who takes the gospel seriously – even literally. Jesus says to the rich young man, “sell up and give all your possessions to the poor”, so St Francis takes him at his word and presents himself naked in the town square. Jesus says ‘love your enemies’, and so Etty Hillesum attempts to love the Nazi camp officers as human beings, with families and real emotions. This is the very essence of sainthood, and the very essence of radical discipleship. And whilst it seems unrealistic to expect the rest of the church to follow suit, what these saints do, argues [Phyllis] McGinley, is rebuke us in our moderation.
Referring to the radicality of the gospel McGinley notes that these are
soul-stirring slogans which most of us absent-mindedly attend to and admire as we admire lofty phrases. We even try to follow them in moderation. We agree that charity covers a multitude of sins and besides is deductible on the Income Tax. We comfort the afflicted in committee or subscribe to a fund for the relief of earthquake victims a hemisphere away. We take flowers to the hospital, speak with friendship to the folk next door, and give away our old clothes to the deprived.
But the saints, I repeat, are not moderate.
Ian Stackhouse, Primitive Piety, 119.
“Everywhere we look in scripture we are confronted with the scandal of particularity – the gospel itself being the greatest example. We live in a culture that teaches us to abstract, depersonalise, idealise, homogenise, but the incarnation insists on the messiness of the whole thing. We think macro, the Bible thinks micro. We prefer global, the Bible prefers local. We love humanity, the Bible loves people: actual people, who live in actual places, with actual names, and actual churches. Anything less is cowardice.”
Ian Stackhouse, Primitive Piety
A little gem I found from Aquinas’ commentary on John, 4 ways that the Sabbath pointed to Christ:
“God did what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, he condemned sin in his flesh, in order that the requirements of the law might be accomplished in us” (Rom 8:3).
The Jews did not do any work on the Sabbath, as a symbol that there were certain things pertaining to the Sabbath which were to be accomplished, but which the law could not do. This is clear in the four things which God ordained for the Sabbath: for he sanctified the Sabbath day, blessed it, completed his work on it, and then rested. These things the law was not able to do. It could not sanctify; so we read: “Save me, O Lord, for there are no holy people left” (Ps 11:1). Nor could it bless; rather, “Those who rely on the works of the law are under a curse” (Gal 3:10). Neither could it, complete and perfect, because “the law brought nothing to perfection” (Heb 7:19). Nor could it bring perfect rest: “If Joshua had given them rest, God would not be speaking after of another day” (Heb 4:8).
These things, which the law could not do, Christ did. For he sanctified the people by his passion: “Jesus, in order to sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate” (Heb 13:12). He blessed them by an inpouring of grace: “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing of heaven, in Christ” (Eph 1:3). He brought the people to perfection by instructing them in the ways of perfect justice: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). He also led them to true rest: “We who have believed will find rest,” as is said in Hebrews (4:3). Therefore, it is proper for him to work on the Sabbath, who is able to make perfect those things that pertain to the Sabbath, from which an impotent law rested.
What is the virtue of a horse? Is it to have a bridle studded with gold and straps to match, and a silk band to fasten the housing, and colorful clothes embroidered with gold thread, and headgear studded with jewels, and hair braided with gold cord? Or is it to be swift and strong in its legs, even in its paces, and to have hooves that fit a well-bred horse, and courage for long journeys and warfare, and to be calm on the battlefield, and to save its rider if there is a rout? Isn’t it obvious that these are the things that make the virtue of the horse, and not the others? And what kind of vine should we admire? One that’s covered with leaves and branches, or one loaded down with fruit? Or what kind of virtue belongs to an olive tree? Is it to have big branches and lots of leaves, or is it to have an abundance of its own fruit all over the tree? Well, let’s look at human beings the same way. What is the virtue of a man? Not riches, so that you fear poverty. Not bodily health, so that you are afraid to get sick. Not public opinion, so that you fear a bad reputation. Not life just for its own sake, so that death is terrible to you. Not freedom, so that you avoid servitude. No, the virtue of a man is carefulness in holding true doctrine, and righteous living. Not even the devil himself can take these things away from you if you have them, as long as you take the necessary care to guard them.
St. John Chrysostom, No One Can Harm the Man Who Does Not Injure Himself, 3
“We do not usually measure things rightly. I am persuaded that our weights and scales are out of order. We think we are doing a great deal when we get into a big controversy, or write an article that is read all over the nation, or create a sensation which startles thousands. But, indeed, it is not so! The Lord is not in the wind, nor in the tempest—we must go on with the still small voice of loving instruction and persuasion. You must go on talking with your little children in your classes; you must go on speaking to the few sick persons you are able to visit; you must try and preach Jesus Christ in little rooms, or to dozens and scores in the street corner or on the village green. It is the old-fashioned, quiet personal work which is effective! If we get to think that everything must be big to be good, we shall get into a sorry state of mind. In the little bit of work thoroughly done, God is glorified much more than in the great scheme that is superficial.”
Charles Spurgeon – A Sermon Delivered on Lord’s Day Morning 23 , 1886, (#1901), John 4:31-38