Sunday, August 9, 2009

St. Caesarius of Arles - Sermon 10

The Fathers of the Church
St. Caesarius of Arles
Volume 31
Sermon 10

(1) I beg and exhort you, dearly beloved, if anyone wants to be saved, let him learn the true Catholic faith, firmly adhere to it, and preserve it inviolate. Therefore, each one should see to it that he believes in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God; and yet not three gods, but only one. As is the Father, so is the Son and so is the Holy Spirit. However, every one of the faithful should believe that the Son is equal to the Father in divinity but inferior to Him in the humanity of His body which He assumed from ours; the Holy Spirit, in turn, proceeds from them both. Therefore, dearly beloved, believe in God the Father almighty and in Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son and our Lord. Believe that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary who was a virgin before childbirth and remained one ever after it, continuing without any contagion or stain of sin. Moreover, believe that Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate for our sins, believe that He was crucified, believe that He died and was buried, believe that He descended into hell to fetter the Devil, to free the souls of the just who were being kept under guard, and to take them with Him to the heavenly paradise. Believe that He arose from the dead on the third day, showing us the manner of our resurrection. Believe that He ascended into heaven with the body He had assumed from ours, believe that He sits at the right hand of the Father, believe that He will come to judge the living and the dead. Believe in the Holy Spirit, believe in the holy Catholic Church, believe in the communion of saints, believe in the resurrection of the body, believe in the forgiveness of sins, believe also in eternal life.

(2) Therefore, if anyone wants to be a disciple of Christ, he should keep His commandments and love humility as He Himself said: ‘Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. ‘1 Why ‘of heart, ‘ I ask? Because there are many who seem to be humble outwardly, but within are full of the swelling of pride. Christ ‘humbled himself for us, ‘taking the nature of a slave, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross.’2 For us, brethren, and to take away our sins, He assumed human flesh, was born of a virgin, laid in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, condemned by the Jews and persecuted by them, seized, scourged, defiled with spittle, crowned with thorns, fastened with nails, pierced with a lance, hung on a cross, given vinegar with gall to drink, and reputed among the wicked. Besides, dearly beloved, He endured all these things to free us from the jaws of hell. Therefore, since the Lord bore so many and such great things for us, we ought to follow in His footsteps and imitate the example of the saints if we want to reach Him. The Lord says in the Gospel: ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me,’3 and elsewhere: ‘go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and come, follow me.’4 The holy martyrs, dearly beloved, followed in His footsteps and drank the chalice of suffering which He drank. The Apostle Peter was crucified for the name of Christ, Paul was beheaded, Stephen was stoned, and how many others suffered thus for His name.

(3) For this reason, brethren, crucify and ‘mortify your members which are on earth,’5 in order that you may please Him who created you. One who was proud should be humble ; the unbelieving, faithful; the dissolute, chaste; the robber, worthy; the drunkard, sober; the sleepy, vigilant; the avaricious, generous; the deceitful, kind in speech. The detractor or envious person should be upright and kind; one who sometimes came late to church should now hasten there more frequently. Let each one redeem himself with abundant almsgiving, for, ‘As water quencheth a fire, so alms resisteth sins.’6 Distribute among the churches and the poor every year tithes of all the fruits you gather. Love fasting; avoid gluttony and drunkenness. Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and seek those who are in prison. Receive strangers in your homes, wash their feet, and dry them with linen, kiss them tenderly, and prepare beds for them. Let no one commit theft or murder or adultery or perjury, or bear false witness. Every man should honor his father and mother that he may live long on earth. Let him cherish God more than himself and love his neighbor as himself. If anyone has committed any of the aforementioned offenses, he should quickly amend his life, make his confession, perform true penance, and then his sins will be forgiven him. If you are willing to do what I have suggested, brethren, you will merit pardon for your sins and obtain eternal life: with the help of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.

1 Matt. 11.29.
2 Phil. 2.7,8.
3 Luke 9.23.
4 Matt. 19.21.
6 Eccli. 3.33.
5 Col. 3.5.

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