Rorate Caeli

You are a vessel of election, o holy apostle Paul


Tu es vas electionis, sancte Paule Apostole: vere digne es glorificandus. (from the Tract for the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul: "You are a vessel of election, O holy apostle Paul: you are truly worthy to be glorified.")

Et [Dominus] dixit mihi: Sufficit tibi gratia mea: nam virtus in infirmitate perficitur. Libenter igitur gloriabor in infirmitatibus meis, ut inhabitet in me virtus Christi. (From the Epistle for the Sunday in Sexagesima, II Corinthians, xii, 9: "And He said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee, for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.")
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Sexagesima Sunday, which this year falls only two days after the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, is an ode to the Apostle of the Gentiles, whose intercession is asked in the very Collect of the Day. The readings of the Sunday include some of the most beautiful words written by Saint Paul (II Corinthians, xi, 19-33; xii,1-9) - wonderfully explained by Saint John Chrysostom:

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He endured shipwreck that he might stay the shipwreck of the world; "a day and a night he passed in the deep," that he might draw it up from the deep of error; he was "in weariness" that he might refresh the weary; he endured smiting that he might heal those that had been smitten of the devil; he passed his time in prisons that he might lead forth to the light those that were sitting in prison and in darkness; he was "in deaths oft" that he might deliver from grievous deaths; "five times he received forty stripes save one" that he might free those that inflicted them from the scourge of the devil; he was "beaten with rods" that he might bring them under "the rod and the staff" of Christ; he "was stoned," that he might deliver them from the senseless stones; he "was in the wilderness, that he might take them out of the wilderness; "in journeying," to stay their wanderings and open the way that leadeth to heaven; he "was in perils in the cities," that he might show the city which is above; "in hunger and thirst," to deliver from a more grievous hunger; "in nakedness," to clothe their unseemliness with the robe of Christ; set upon by the mob, to extricate them from the besetment of fiends; he burned, that he might quench the burning darts of the devil: "through a window was let down from the wall," to send up from below those that lay prostrate upon the ground.

Shall we then talk any more, seeing we do not so much as know what Paul suffered? Shall we make mention any more of goods, or even of wife, or city, or freedom, when we have seen him ten thousand times despising even life itself? The martyr dies once for all: but that blessed saint in his one body and one soul endured so many perils as were enough to disturb even a soul of adamant; and what things all the saints together have suffered in so many bodies, those all he himself endured in one: he entered into the world as if a race-course, and stripped himself of all, and so made a noble stand. For he knew the fiends that were wrestling with him. Wherefore also he shone forth brightly at once from the beginning, from the very starting-post, and even to the end he continued the same; yea, rather he even increased the intensity of his pursuit as he drew nearer to the prize.

And what surely is wonderful is that though suffering and doing such great things, he knew how to maintain an exceeding modesty. For when he was driven upon the necessity of relating his own good deeds, he ran quickly over them all; although he might have filled books without number, had he wished to unfold in detail every thing he mentioned; if he had specified the Churches he was in care for, if his prisons and his achievements in them, if of the other things one by one, the besetments, the assaults. But he would not. Knowing then these things, let us also learn to be modest and not to glory at any time in wealth or other worldly things, but in the reproaches we suffer for Christ's sake, and in these, only when need compels; for if there be nothing urging it, let us not mention these even, lest we be puffed up, but our sins only. For so shall we both easily be released from them and shall have God propitious to us, and shall attain the life to come; where unto may we all attain through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.

Saint John Crysostom
Homilies on the Second Epistle of
Saint Paul to the Corinthians,
Homily XXV

2 comments:

John said...

You must be the best Catholic blog along with Father z. I read both of you every day, several times. I do not read the others unless you refer to them

David said...

Thank you for these wonderful meditations. When one is unable to assist at daily Mass, it is easy to lose track of such beautiful feasts as today's.