Fidelity to the Word
Our Lord and His Holy Apostles at the Last Supper


A blog dedicated to Christ Jesus our Lord and His True Presence in the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist


From whence can any one fill them with bread here in the wilderness ?

Mark 8:4

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Washing of the Feet

From the Old Oligarch

The liturgy is a great deposit of doctrine in symbolic form. Lex orandi, lex credendi. In a robust Catholic environment, it can be the source from which all things flow and to which they return. As Pickstock attempts to remind post-modernists, ora et labora meant that every labor was sanctified by a closing act of prayer, even in the schola, thus the subtitle of her book, "the liturgical consummation of philosophy." The spirit of the beginning and the end had a fundamental impact on the tenor of what was done in the middle, whether it was scholastic philosophy or politics "in the world," but that is another story.

In an age like ours, when Catholic culture is receding, we often fail to notice the meaning of liturgical symbols which once animated the piety of our forefathers. This is one reason why it is incredibly important not to change the liturgy simply because we would like to see it streamlined, or because something doesn't make sense to us, or indeed, to many modern Catholics. Such streamlining, done in the name of short-term gains of "intelligibility," often means, in fullest perspective, that the last vestige of a liturgically-expressed belief has been made a palimpsest.

Such is the case with the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday. I know it is too late now for liturgists to change their game plans (not like they would care to), but I felt the need to blog about this in advance of Triduum, when this beautiful ritual is often glossed over with some bland remark about serving others.

I can still remember the time when parishes would re-enact the Washing of the Feet using 12 priests, and failing that, supplementing the priests with religious. The trend now-a-days, however, has been to use laity. (Too much sacerdotalism, and all that.) The primary symbolism presented by this act is driven by an interpretation of the Washing of the Feet as an object lesson in charity. Facile liturgy is thus designed according to facile exegesis. There's a better interpretation of Jn 13:1-20, and a deeper meaning to this unique Lenten ritual.

(The starting point to this investigation, in case you're wondering, is the Lord's enigmatic question in Jn 13:12 and Eugenio Zolli's few pages on it in The Nazarene. Zolli has an eye for overlooked passages. I am also aware that there are many variations in the 14-centuries-old ritual of the Washing, and that using laity is licit.)

I think a full understanding of the passage rests on three points:

1) For a Jew, commanding someone to wash your feet was a gesture of great self-abasement. Talmudic legislation forbade Jews from commanding this action of anyone but a Gentile slave, the lowest of the low. By washing the apostles' feet, Jesus takes on the form of a slave, in anticipation of the total humiliation of Good Friday, in accordance with St. Paul's words in Philippians 2:7-8: "Christ emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross."

2) Many Patristic authors [for example, Eusebius and Ambrose] see a preparation for the proclamation of the Gospel in the washing of the feet, in accordance with Isaiah 52:7: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings the Good News." This is the passage in Isaiah from which we get the very word Gospel, and which goes on to predict what this Good News will look like: the death of the Suffering Servant (Is 52:13-53:12) and the restoration of the covenant through the sending of the Logos (Is 54-55), which immediately follow it in the book of the prophet and the evangelist.

Christ washes the apostles' feet to make them beautiful in preparation for announcing the consummation of the divine plan. The Washing is thus an act whereby Christ invests the apostles with evangelical authority, as part of their episcopal office, as He explains in Jn 13:20: "Amen, Amen, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me." Think of Matthew 18:18, not only Matthew 22:39.

3) We already have a basis in (2) for thinking about a connection between the Washing and ordination. This is, of course, reinforced by ancient Christian custom which celebrates the institution of the Christian priesthood during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper, since, just after the Washing, Christ commands his disciples: "Do this in memory of me," giving them the mandate to celebrate the Eucharist which is the reason for their priesthood.

The last piece of the puzzle comes into view if we read Scripture with Jewish eyes, awaiting the Old being fulfilled in the New. While sometimes it was customary to offer guests the means to wash their own feet before dining, we know that the Passover must be eaten shod (Exodus 12:11), so this would be the one meal where such a custom wouldn't have been necessary. Why does Jesus do it?

Exodus 30:18-21 tells us that Aaron and his sons, the High Priests of Israel, must wash their feet before entering the Holy Place to minister before the Lord, just as God Himself instructed Moses directly "Put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5).

Holy things are for the holy, not the uninitiated. When Moses had finished creating all the implements necessary for divine worship and the tabernacle, he then turned to ordain Aaron and his sons as the first High Priests of the old covenant. Remember from (1) the great indignity of a Jew washing another's feet. To my knowledge, there is no other passage in the OT where one Jew washes another's feet except Leviticus 8:6: Since Aaron and his sons cannot wash themselves to purify themselves for their ordination (because they are not yet priests), Moses does it for them as part of their ordination ritual.

This gives us the full meaning of the Washing of the Feet:

Christ is preparing His apostles to be His first priests. Christ chooses a symbol of great self-abasement to underscore the nature of this priesthood in imitatio Christi. Sharing in Christ's priesthood means sharing in his kenosis, His self-emptying, His self-sacrifice. Just as Aaron and his sons were the first priests of the Old Covenant, Christ washes the feet of the Apostles to be the first priests of the New Covenant. They have "already been washed clean" (Jn 13:10) of sin in Baptism. Now, they receive a special washing, proper to their ordination, so that they can worthily enter the New Tabernacle -- the first Tabernacle to contain the Eucharist, the Upper Room.

Such, IMHO, is the meaning of the Washing of the Feet: priestly, sacrificial, mysterious. The new covenant fulfilling the old in its figures. So if you get another lazy, banal homily on "serving others" or some such permutation of the importance of being nice, you've been shirked. Pray for more from your priest. Christ did. More than any other day of the year, this day should spur priests to recall the meaning of their vocation, so encourage them to break open the word and to feed you. Wash off the dirty exegesis of vague communitarian motives, so that the Gospel, not niceties, can be spread across the mountain tops.

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The CDA, Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments in "Paschales Solemnitatis" (Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts) in #51 states: "The washing of the feet of chosen men (viri) which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the sevice and charity of Christ, who came "not to be served, but to serve" (Mt. 20:20). This tradition should be maintained, and it proper significance explained."

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Two stories about bishops restricting footwashing ceremony to men here and here. Fr. Z writes about the rite of washing of feet at Holy Thursday Mass here.

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Foot washing was part of an early baptismal rite:

Although the authenticity of De sacramentis has been doubted, today all scholars agree that it was really written by St. Ambrose, bishop in Milan 373-397. De sacramentis is a shorthand transcription of the sermons while De mysteriis is an edited version rewritten for a larger audience. What Ambrose says in De sacramentis was intended only for the newly baptized, not for readers in other places. That is why Ambrose so proudly can underline the fact that the church of Milan has preserved a part of the baptismal rite which had been left out in Rome.

Ambrose explains that the feet were washed while John 13 was read aloud. The reason for the rite is, according to him, not only the new life style which Jesus taught his disciples, but also that original sin came to man through Adam's foot through the serpent's bite.

Text and introduction in: Ambroise de Milan, Des sacrements. Des mystères, ed. B. Botte (Sources Chrétiennes 25bis), Paris 1961, 92-96.

On the Mysteries, Chapter 6
On the Sacraments, Book III, Chapter 1

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2 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica, Book 6, Chapter 24

How the Same Lord that spake in the Prophets will come Among Men and be seen by Their Eyes, and be known to the Gentiles.
[Passage quoted, Isa. lii. 5-10.]

The prophecy of Christ's Passion immediately succeeds this in one and the same passage, which I shall expound at leisure. One and the same Lord, who said in the previous quotation to the Jewish people, "You were sold for your sins, and for your iniquities I sent away your mother, because I came, and there was no man: I called and there was none to hear," says in the passage before us to the Jews again: "Because of you my name is blasphemed among the Gentiles."

Then, as though having another people besides them, he adds, "Therefore my people shall know my name," and teaches that not another, but the same Lord that spoke in the prophets, will sojourn some day in our life, saying, "I am he that speak; I will come." And the words, "As a season upon the mountains, as the feet of one preaching a message of peace, as one preaching good things, I will make thy salvation known, saying, Sion, thy God reigneth," the other translators make it clearer. For Aquila says: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that preacheth the gospel, who publisheth peace, who preacheth the gospel of good things, publishing salvation, saying to Sion, Thy God reigneth."

And Symmachus says, "How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him that preacheth the gospel, making peace known, publishing good things, making salvation known, saying to Sion, Thy God reigneth": and instead of "The voice of thy guards is lifted, and they shall rejoice with the voice together, because they shall see eye to eye." Symmachus translates thus: "The voice of thy guards; they have raised their voice. Together, will they praise: For they will see openly." By "guards" would here be meant the holy apostles of our Saviour, who also saw openly Him that was foretold, and raised their voice preaching to all the world. Sion and Jerusalem that here have the good news told them the apostle knew to be heavenly, when he said, "But Jerusalem that is above is free, that is the mother of us," and, "Ye have come to Mount Sion, and the city of the: living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels." Sion might also mean the Church established by Christ in every part of the world, and Jerusalem the holy constitution which, once established of old time among the ancient Jews alone, was driven into the wilderness by their impiety, and then again was restored far better than before through the coming of our Saviour. Therefore the prophecy says, "Let the waste places of Jerusalem break forth into joy together, for the Lord has pitied her, and saved Jerusalem."

Nor would you be wrong in calling Sion the soul of every holy and godly man, so far as it is lifted above this life, having its city in heaven, seeing the things beyond the world. For it means "a watch-tower." And in so far as such a man remains calm and free from passion, you could call him Jerusalem—for Jerusalem means "Vision of Peace."

After this the call of the Gentiles to the worship of God is very clearly shown in the words, "And the Lord God will reveal His holy arm before all nations; and the high places of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." And consider that the arm of the Lord is nothing else but the Word and Wisdom, and the Lord Himself, Who is the Christ of God.

It is easy to shew this from many instances. In the Exodus you have Israel saved by the arm of God from slavery to the Egyptians. While the prophecy before us says that that same arm of the Lord, which of old appeared to save His people will be revealed to all nations, as if it formerly were hidden from them. And "the salvation, which "he says "all the high places of the earth shall see," and which he mentioned before when he said, "I will make my salvation known," know that it is the Hebrew for the name of Jesus.

4/13/2006 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

St. Ambrose of Milan, Letter to Irenaeus

AMBROSE TO IRENAEUS, GREETING.

[This letter is in fact a meditation on Christ as the true Chief good of man, the true Source of happiness, and Food of the soul, and Fountain of life, to be sought therefore with eagerness, and clung to with all the affection of the soul, which must therefore scorn all meaner delights.]

1. While engaged in reading, after resting my mind for a while and desisting from study, I began to meditate on that versicle which in the evening we had sung at Vigils, Thou art fairer than the children of men, and, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring good tidings of Him.207 And truly nothing is more beautiful than that chief good, the very preaching of which is beyond measure lovely, and specially the progress of continuous discourse, and the foot-steps, so to speak, of Apostolic preaching. But who is equal to these things? They to whom God gave not only to preach Christ, but also to suffer for Him.

2. Let us, as far as we can, direct our minds to that which is beautiful seemly and good, let us be occupied therein, let us keep it in mind, that by its illumination and brightness our souls may become beautiful and our minds transparent. For if our eyes, when obscured by dimness, are refreshed by the verdure of the fields and are able by the beauty of a grove or grassy hill to remedy every defect of the failing vision, while the very pupils and balls of the eye seem to be coloured with the hue of health: how much more does this eye of the mind, beholding that chief good, and dwelling and feeding thereupon, brighten and shine |200 forth, so as to fulfil that which is written, My soul shall be satisfied even as it were with marrow and fatness.208Moreover, he who has a skilful knowledge of the souls of his flock, pays attention to wild grasses, that he may obtain much pasturage: for by the sweeter kind of herbage lambs are made fatter, and the milky juice more healthful. On these pastures those fat ones have fed, who have eaten and worshipped, for good indeed are those pastures wherein is placed the saint of God.209

3. There is grass also, whereby the flocks of sheep are nourished, for whence come the fleeces of wisdom, and the clothing of prudence. And perchance this is the grass of the mountain,210 upon which the words of the prophet distil as the showers upon the grass,211 and which the wise man carefully gathers, that he may have a fleece for a covering, that is, for a spiritual garment. And thus proper food and clothing are provided for that soul which cleaves to the chief Good, that Good Which is Divine, and which the Apostle Peter exhorts us to seek for, that by the acquisition of such knowledge we may become partakers of the Divine nature.212

4. The knowledge hereof the good God opens to His saints, and grants it out of His good treasury, even as the sacred Law testifies, saying, The Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee and open unto thee His good treasure.213 From this heavenly treasure He gives rain to His lands, to bless all the works of thy hands. By this rain is signified the utterance of the Law, which moistens the soul fruitful and fertile in good works, that it may receive the dew of Grace.214

5. The knowledge of this good David sought; as he himself declaims, saying, One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I will require, even that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, and to visit His temple.215 And that this is the chief Good he straightway added in the same Psalm, I believe verily to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.216 He must be sought after, there He will be clearly seen face to face. This good is in the house of God, in His secret and hidden place. Wherefore he says again, He |201 shall be satisfied with the pleasures of thy house.217 In another place too he has shown this to be the highest blessing, saying, The Lord shall bless thee out of Sion, and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem.218 Wherefore blessed is he who dwells then in the vestibule of faith and in the spiritual abode, the dwelling place of devotion and the life of virtue.

6. In Him therefore let us be and in Him abide, of Whom Isaiah says, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.219 Who are they that preach but Peter, Paul, and all the Apostles? 220 What do they preach to us but the Lord Jesus? He is our Peace, He is our chief Good, for He is Good from Good, and from a good tree is gathered good fruit. And good also is His Spirit, Who takes of Him and leads His servants forth into the land of righteousness.221 For who that hath the Spirit of God within him will deny that He is good, since He says Himself, Is thine eye evil because I am good? 222 May this Good which the merciful God gives to them that seek Him come into our soul, and into our inmost heart. He is our Treasure, He is our Way, He is our Wisdom, He is our Righteousness, our Shepherd, the good Shepherd, He is our Life. Thou seest how many goods are in this one Good! These goods the Evangelists preach to us. David seeking for these goods saith, Who will shew us any good? 223 And he shews that the Lord Himself is our Good by adding, Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy Countenance upon us. But Who is the Light of the Father's Countenance, but the Brightness of His Glory, and the Image of the invisible God, in Whom the Father is both seen and glorified, as He also glorifies His Son? 224

8. Wherefore the Lord Jesus Himself is that chief Good which was announced to us by Prophets, declared by Angels, promised by the Father, preached by Apostles.225 He hath come to us as ripeness; nor as ripeness only, but as ripeness in the mountains; to the intent that in our counsels there should be nothing sour, or unripe, nothing harsh or bitter in our actions or manners, the first Preacher of good tidings hath come among us. Wherefore also He saith, I, Who spoke, am present with 226 you, that is, I |202Who spoke in the Prophets, am present in that Body which I took of the Virgin; I am present as the inward Likeness of God, and the express Image of His person,227 I am present too as Man. But who knows Me? For they saw the Man, but His Works made them believe He was above man. Was He not as man when weeping over Lazarus?228 again, was He not above man, when He raised him to life? Was He not as man when scourged? and again, above man when He took away the sin of the world?229

9. To Him therefore let us hasten in Whom is the chief Good: for He is the bounty and patience of Israel, Who calls thee to repentance, that thou come not into condemnation but mayest receive the remission of thy sins. He saith, Repent. This is He of Whom the Prophet Amos cries, Seek good.230 He is the chief Good, Who is in need of nothing, but abounds in all things. And well may He abound, in Whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;231 of Whose fulness we have all received, and in Whom we are filled, as saith the Evangelist.232

10. If then the mind with its capacities of desire and pleasure hath tasted the chief Good, and by means of these two affections hath drank It in, unalloyed by sorrow and fear, it is wonderfully inflamed. For having embraced the Word of God, she knows no measure and yet feels no satiety, as it is written, Thou art good and gracious, O teach me Thy statutes:233 having embraced the Word of God, she desires Him above all beauty, she loves Him above all joy, she is delighted with Him above all perfumes, she desires often to see, often to look upon Him, often to be drawn to Him that she may follow. Thy Name, it is said, is as ointment poured forth; therefore we maidens love Thee, therefore we strive but cannot attain to Thee. Draw us that we may run after Thee, that by the fragrance of Thy ointments we may gain power to follow Thee.234

11. And the mind presses forward to the sight of internal mysteries, to the place of rest of the Word, to the very dwelling of that chief Good, His light and brightness. In that haven and home-retreat she hastens to hear His words, and having heard, finds them sweeter than all other things. Learn of the Prophet who had tasted and saith, O how |203 sweet are Thy words unto my throat, yea sweeter than honey unto my mouth.235 For what can that soul desire which hath once tasted the sweetness of the Word, and seen His brightness? When Moses received the Law he remained forty days on the mount and required no bodily food; Elijah, hastening to this rest, prayed that his life might be taken away;236 Peter, himself also beholding on the Mount the glory of the Lord's Resurrection, would fain not have come down, saying, It is good for us to be here.237 How great then is the glory of the Divine Essence and the graces of the Word, which things the Angels desire to look into.238

12. The soul then which beholds this chief Good, requires not the body, and understands that it ought to have as little connexion with it as possible; it renounces the world, withdraws itself from the chains of the flesh, and extricates itself from all the bonds of earthly pleasures. Thus Stephen beheld Jesus, and feared not being stoned, nay, while he was being stoned, prayed not for himself but for his murderers.239 Paul also, when caught up to the third heaven, knew not whether he was in the body or out of the body: caught up, I say, into Paradise, he became invisible to the presence of his own body, and having heard the words of God he blushed to descend again to the infirmities of the body.240

13. Thus, knowing what he had seen and heard in Paradise, he cried saying, Why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances? Touch not, taste not, handle not, which all are to perish with the using.241 For he would have us of this world in figure and semblance, not in use or possession, using as though we used it not, as our place of sojourn, not of rest, walking through it as in a vision, not with desire, so as to pass as lightly as possible over the mere shadow of this world. In this way S. Paul, who walked by faith not by sight, was absent from the body and present with the Lord,242 and although upon earth conversed not with earthly but with heavenly things.

11. Wherefore let our soul, wishing to draw near to God, raise herself from, the body, and ever adhere to that chief End which is divine, Which is everlasting, Which was from the beginning, and Which was with God,243 that is, the Word |204 of God. This is that Divine Being, in Whom we live and move and have our being.244 This is That which was in the beginning, the true I AM. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was not yea nor nay but in Him was yea.245 He bid Moses say, I AM hath sent me.246

15. With this Good therefore let our soul be, and if possible, be continually, that each of us may say, My soul is continually in my hand.247 And such will be the case, if it be not in the flesh, but in the spirit, and does not entangle itself in earthly things. For when it turns back to carnal things, then the allurements of the body creep over it, then it swells with rage and anger, then it is pierced with sorrow, then it is lifted up with arrogance, then it is bowed down with grief.

16. These are the heavy griefs of the soul by which it is often brought down to death, while its eyes are blinded so that they see not the light of true glory, and the riches of its eternal heritage. But by keeping them always fixed on God, it will receive from Christ the brightness of wisdom, so as to have its vision enlightened by the knowledge of God, and to behold that hope of our calling, and see that which is good and well-pleasing and perfect. For that which is good is well-pleasing to the Father, and that which is well-pleasing is perfect, as it is written in the Gospel, Love your enemies, that ye may be the children of your Father Which is in heaven, for, He sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,248 which is surely a proof of goodness. Afterwards He concludes by saying, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father Which is in heaven is perfect.249 For charity is perfect; in short it is the fulfilling of the Law; for what can be so good as charity which thinketh no evil?250

17. Fly then those regions where dwell envy, ambition, and contention. Therefore let thy mind open itself to receive this Good, that it may mount above the clouds, that it may be renewed as the eagle,251 and like the eagle spread abroad its wings, that with new vigour in its pinions it may fearlessly soar aloft and leave its earthly dwelling-place behind it, for the earthly habitation weigheth down the mind.252 Let it put off old things, let it cast off wandering desires, let it purge its eyes that it may see that Fountain of true wisdom, |205 that Source of eternal life Which flows and abounds with all things and is in want of nothing. For who hath given to Him, seeing that of Him and through Him and to Him are all things?253

18. The Fountain of life then is that chief Good from Which the means of life are dispensed to all, but It hath life abiding in Itself. It receiveth from none as though It were in need, It confers good on others rather than borrows from others for Itself, for It hath no need of us. Thus in the person of man it is said, my goods are nothing unto Thee.254 What then can be more lovely than to approach to Him, to cleave to Him; what pleasure can be greater? He who has seen and tasted freely of the Fountain of living water, what else can he desire? what kingdoms? what powers? what riches? perceiving how miserable even in this world is the condition of kings, how mutable the state of empires, how short the space of this life, in what bondage sovereigns themselves must live, seeing that their life is according to the will of others, not their own.

19. But what rich man passes to eternal life unless he be supported by the riches of virtue, that gift which is the portion of all, and declared to be impossible for the rich alone?255 Happiness then does not consist in using these things but in perceiving that whereby you may despise them, may regard them as void of truth 256, may judge them to be empty and fruitless, and may love the true beauty of naked truth which confesses the cheating vanities of this world.

20. Lift up therefore your eyes, O my soul; those eyes of which the Word of God saith, Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse, thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes.257 Go up then to the palm tree,258 overcome the world, that thou mayest reach the height of the Word. Leave out of doors the vain shows of this world, leave its malice, but bring in with you that goodness of mind which has grace in the tree of life, that is, if she wash her robes and enter into the city which is the true grace of the saints, wherein is the Tabernacle of God, |206 around which the scribes of the Lord encamp, where neither day nor sun nor moon afford light, but the Lord Himself is the light thereof,259 and enlightens all that city. For He is the Light of the world,260not indeed the visible light, but the intellectual brightness of the souls which are in this world, upon which He pours the bright beams of reason and of prudence, and in the Gospel is said to inspire with the breath of His spiritual influences the inmost soul, and the recesses of the mind.261

21. If then any man hath begun to be an inhabitant of that heavenly city, an inhabitant, that is, by his life and manners, let him not depart from it, let him not go out again, or retrace his steps, the steps, that is, not of his body but of his mind; let him not turn back. Behind is luxury, behind is impurity. When Lot went up into the mountain he left behind him the crimes of Sodom, but she who looked back, could not reach the higher ground.262 It is not your feet but your manners which are never to turn back. Let not your hands hang down, or the knees of your faith and devotion become feeble. Let not the weakness of your will be backsliding, let there be no recurrence of crime. Thou hast entered in, remain therefore; thou hast arrived, stay still; escape for thy life.263

22. In your ascent your steps must tend directly upwards, no man can safely turn back. Here is the way, there, downfall; here ascent, there a precipice. In ascending there is labour, in descending danger; but the Lord is mighty, Who, when thou art founded there will guard and hedge thee round with prophetic walls and apostolic bulwarks. Therefore the Lord says to thee, Come, get you down, for the press is full.264 Let us be found within, not out of doors. In the Gospel too the Son of God saith, He which shall be upon the house-top let him not come down to take away his vessels.265 And this He says not of this house-top, but of that of which it is said, He spreadeth out the heavens like a vault.266

23. Remain within therefore, within Jerusalem, within thine own soul, peaceful, meek, and tranquil. Leave her not, nor descend in order to raise up this vessel of thine, either with honour, or wealth, or pride. Remain within, |207 that aliens may not pass through thee, that sins may not pass through thy mind, vain acts., and idle thoughts: and they will not pass, if thou wilt wage a holy war in the cause of faith and devotion, for the love of truth against the snares of passion, and wilt take up the arms of God against spiritual wickedness and the craft of the devil, who tempts our senses by fraud and stratagem, but who is easily crushed by the gentle warrior, who sees no strife, but, as becomes the servant of God, teaches the faith with modesty, and convinces those who oppose themselves. Of him the Scripture says, Let the warrior who is gentle arise 267, and let him that is weak say, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.268

24. Supported by this faith, even he who is weak shall prevail, and his soul will be holy, and the prophetic or apostolic mountains shall drop down new wine269 for him, and the hills shall flow with milk, like that hill which gave milk to the Corinthians to drink,270 and water shall flow for him from their vessels, and from their well-heads. From his belly shall flow living water,271 that spiritual water which the Holy Spirit supplies to His faithful; may He vouchsafe to water thy soul also, that in thee may be a fountain springing up into life eternal. Farewell; love me as a son, for I love you as a father,

4/13/2006 11:41:00 AM  

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