Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Fathers on Reading Scripture, VII (d)

The fourth and final installment of St Symeon the New Theologian's twenty-fourth discourse, "On Spiritual Knowledge" (continued from here):
One whose bodily eyes are weak cannot at all look on a brightly shining sunbeam; if he stares at it he at once loses such sight as he still has. So he whose spiritual eyes are weak and whose senses are subject to passions cannot contemplate the excellence or beauty of a body without passion or harm to himself. Whatever peace of thought he possessed before, whatever calm of evil desire, he loses them as he lingers to reflect on the passion. Consequently such a person is wholly unable to perceive even his own infirmity. For if he has thought that he was sick it was because he believed that there were others who were healthy, and perhaps he blamed himself for being the cause of his sickness and was concerned for getting rid of it. Now, however, such a person holds that all men are subject to passions and looks on himself as their equal, and claims that it is impossible for him to be better than all others. Why is this? So that this wretched man may with them succumb to passion, since he is unwilling to rid himself of such an evil. Had he been willing, he would have had the strength, for he would have received the ability from God. For as many of us as were baptized into His Name have received from Him the power to divest ourselves of our past inborn corruption like an old garment, and to become sons of God and clothed with Christ (cf. Col 3:9f.; Gal 3:27).

But far be it from us, brethren, to become like those who take this attitude and think such thoughts, men of earth, and utterly dried up. Rather, may we follow Christ, who has died for us and has risen (2 Cor 5:15) and exalted us to heaven. Let us continually follow in His footsteps, being cleansed by penitence from the defilement of sin and clothed in the bright garment of incorruption (cf. 1 Cor 15:53f) that belongs to the Spirit, in the same Christ our God, to whom is due all glory, honor, and adoration, forever and ever. Amen.
Taken from this edition.


Christopher D. Hall said...

Pardon the irrelevance of this post on this comment, but having just discovered your blog, the first thing I did was click on the "about me" page and burst out laughing. I am just now reading The Man Who Was Thursday and immediately recognized one of my favorite passages so far. I'll be checking this blog out in the future.


Felix Culpa said...

Excellent! I'm always pleased when someone steps on one of my little literary land-mines.