"كتابات الآباء "
BISHOP OF HERACLEA -- FROM HIS CATENA
II.--NICETAS BISHOP OF HERACLEA.
FROM HIS CATENA.
I.--JOB I. 21.
But Job's words may be more elegantly understood of evil and sin
thus: "Naked" was formed from the earth at the beginning, as if from
a "mother's womb: naked to the earth shall I also depart;" naked,
not of possessions, for that were a trivial and common thing, but of
evil and sin, and of the unsightly shape which follows those who
have led bad lives. Obviously, all of us human beings are born
naked, and again are buried naked, swathed only in grave-clothes.
For God hath provided for us another life, and made the present life
the way for the course which leads to it; appointing the supplies
derived from what we possess merely as provisions for the way; and
on our quitting this way, the wealth, consisting of the things which
we possessed, journeys no farther with us. For not a single thing
that we possess is properly our own: of one possession alone, that
is godliness, are we properly owners. Of this, death, when it
overtakes us, will not rob us; but from all else it will eject us,
though against our will. For it is for the support of life that we
all have received what we possess; and after enjoying merely the use
of it, each one departs, obtaining from life a brief remembrance.
For this is the end of all prosperity; this is the conclusion of the
good things of this life. Well, then, does the infant, on opening
its eyes, after issuing from the womb, immediately begin with
crying, not with laughter. For it weeps, as if bewailing life, at
whose hands from the outset it tastes of deadly gifts. For
immediately on being bern its hands and feet are swaddled; and
swathed in bonds it takes the breast. O introduction to life,
precursor of death! The child has but just entered on life, and
straightway there is put upon it the raiment of the dead: for nature
reminds those that are born of their end. Wherefore also the child,
on being born, wails, as if crying plaintively to its mother. Why, O
mother, didst thou bring me forth to this life, in which
prolongation of life is progress to death? Why hast thou brought me
into this troubled world, in which, on being born, swaddling bands
are my first experience? Why hast thou delivered me to such a life
as this, in which both a pitiable youth wastes away before old age,
and old age is shunned as under the doom of death? Dreadful, O
mother, is the course of life, which has death as the goal of the
runner. Bitter is the road of life we travel, with the grave as the
wayfarer's inn. Perilous the sea of life we sail; for it has Hades
as a pirate to attack us. Man alone is born in all respects naked,
without a weapon or clothing born with him; not as being inferior to
the other animals, but that nakedness and your bringing nothing with
you may produce thought; and that thought may bring out dexterity,
expel sloth, introduce the arts for the supply of our needs, and
beget variety of contrivances. For, naked, man is full of
contrivances, being pricked on by his necessity, as by a goad, how
to escape rains, how to elude cold, how to fence off blows, how to
till the earth, how to terrify wild beasts; how to subdue the more
powerful of them. Wetted with rain, he contrived a roof; having
suffered from cold, he invented clothing; being struck, he
constructed a breastplate; bleeding his hands with the thorns in
tilling the ground, he availed himself of the help of tools; in his
naked state liable to become a prey to wild beasts, he discovered
from his fear an art which frightened what frightened him. Nakedness
begat one accomplishment after another; so that even his nakedness
was a gift and a master-favour. Accordingly, Job also being made
naked of wealth, possessions, of the blessing of children, of a
numerous offspring, and having lost everything in a short time,
uttered this grateful exclamation: "Naked came I out of the womb,
naked also shall I depart thither;"--to God, that is, and to that
blessed lot and rest.
II.- FROM THE SAME.
Job xxxiv. 7. Calmness is a thing which, of all other things, is
most to be prized. As an example of this, the word proposes to us
the blessed Job. For it is said of him, "What man is like Job, who
drinketh up scorning like water?" For truly enviable, and, in my
judgment, worthy of all admiration, a man is, if he has attained to
such a degree of long-suffering as to be able with ease to grapple
with the pain, truly keen, and not easily conquered by everybody,
which arises from being wronged.
III.--FROM NICETAS CATENA ON MATTHEW.
Matt. v. 42. Alms are to be given, but with judgment, and to the
deserving, that we may Obtain a recompense from the Most Hitch. But
woe to those who have and who take under false pretences, or who are
able to help themselves and want to take from others. For he who
has, and, to carry out false pretences or out of laziness, takes,
shall be condemned.
IV.--FROM THE SAME.
Matt xiii. 31, 32. The word which proclaims the kingdom of heaven is
sharp and pungent as mustard, and represses bile, that is, anger,
and checks inflammation, that is, pride; and from this word the
soul's true health and eternal soundness flow. To such increased
size did the growth of the word come, that the tree which sprang
from it (that is the Church of Christ established over the whole
earth) filled the world, so that the fowls of the air--that is,
divine angels and lofty souls--dwelt in its branches.
V.--FROM THE SAME.
Matt. xiii. 46. A pearl, and that pellucid and of purest ray, is
Jesus, whom of the lightning flash of Divinity the Virgin bore. For
as the pearl, produced in flesh and the oyster-shell and moisture,
appears to be a body moist and transparent, full of light and
spirit; so also God the Word, incarnate, is intellectual light,
sending His rays, through a body luminous and moist.