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Friday, November 5, 2010

Fifth Day in Octave of All Saints

From a Sermon by Saint Bede the Venerable

Beloved: Let us rejoice that we have the opportunity to attain the palm of victory awarded for good works. Let us one and all strive cheerfully and freely in this contest of righteousness. Let us run in the race whereof God and Christ are witnesses. And if any of us hath already begun to advance beyond hankerings after temporal and worldly things, let us not delay our course by any turning back thereto. If the last day find us ready and, without such hindrances, running in the way of good works, we shall have no cause to complain that our Master is a scanty rewarder of our works.

For he that giveth a red diadem for the passion of them that win through persecution, the same will bestow a white one upon them that in peace do prevail in the struggle for righteousness. Neither Abraham nor Isaac nor Jacob were martyrs, and yet for their faith and righteousness they merited the honour of the first place amongst the Patriarchs. And whosever of us is found faithful, righteous, and praiseworthy, shall sit down with them at the banquet. Howbeit, we must be mindful to do God’s will, not our own, for it is he that doeth God’s will that abideth for ever, like as God himself abideth for ever.

Wherefore, beloved, with mind clear, faith firm, courage true, and charity thorough, let us be ready for whatever God willeth ; keeping the Lord’s commandments with boldness: having innocencey in simplicity, peaceableness in love, modesty in lowliness, diligence in service, watchfulness in helping those who toil, mercifulness in succouring the poor, constancy in standing up for the truth, severity in keeping discipline ; wanting to us. For these are the footprints which the Saints have left us, what time they were returning to their fatherland, that we, treading in their steps, might follow them into joy.
A homily by Saint Augustine the Bishop

Blessedness (if by that word we mean the attainment of the highest sort of wisdom) beginneth in holy fear ; for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And contrariwise, pride is rightly entitled the beginning of all sin. Therefore let us leave it to the proud to love, and to seek after, the things of the kingdom of this world. It is not of the proud, but of the humble, that the Lord said : Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Again he said : Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Now, by the earth is here meant(or so I at least suppose) that of which the Psalmist speaketh : Thou art my refuge, and my portion, in the land (literally, in the earth) of the living. By which is meant a certain firmness and stability of everlasting inheritance, whereby the soul of the man that hath a godly disposition maintained itself, as it were, in its own proper spiritual environment, even as the body doth the same in its own proper earthly environment. That is just as the body maintained itself from the earth, wherefrom it is nourished with earthly food, so doth the soul nourish itself with its own proper food, which same is the very maintenance and life of the Saints. Thus the meek are they which do suffer the acts of the wicked, without yielding to evil deeds. For they are such as do resist evil only by overcoming it with good.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Mourning is sorrow over the loss of things which are dear. Now, those who are converted to God, thereby lose many things of this world which they were used to consider very dear. For they may no longer rejoice in all the things wherein they formerly rejoiced. And until love of the things eternal be formed in them, they must needs suffer some measure of grief. But in this mourning they shall be comforted by the Holy Spirit, who in this account is called Paraclete, that is, Comforter. So that, in losing temporal joys, they come to enjoy more and more the joy that is eternal.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. These blessed ones are they that are lovers of the good things which are truly and hence indestructibly, good. Therefore they shall be filled with the food of which the Lord himself speaketh : My meat is to do the will of my Father : which same is righteousness. And they shall be filled with that water, whereof the same our Lord saith that it shall be a well of water, springing up unto everlasting life. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. In these words the Lord saith that those fold that relieve human miseries are blessed, inasmuch as they are repaid by obtaining surcease from their own miseries.

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