Theodore of Studium: SIXTY-FIRST DISCOURSE
THE SAINT PACHOMIUS ORTHODOX LIBRARY
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THE SIXTY-FIRST DISCOURSE FROM THE MAGNA CATECHESIS,
BY SAINT THEODORE OF THE STUDIUM
translated by Alice Gardner, 1905
THE abundant cornfield delights the heart of the husbandman on his approach.
Much more is the ruler of souls gladdened by the spiritual fruitfulness of
those under his charge. Thus do you bring joy to me, my children, you who
are the field of my labours and a plantation of God, by the increase,
and as it were the blossoming forth of your virtues.
And I rejoice to see the zeal of each one about his business, the industry
and care of each in working out his salvation; the gentleness of one;
the laborious industry, even beyond measure, of another; the reverence
and caution of a third; the skill of a fourth in replying to the attacks of
adversaries, without cessation or weariness; the peaceable character of a
fifth, unmoved by passions -- result of peace and calm within, not of outward
forcing; in another, confidence in me, for all my unworthiness, and
the disposition to regard me as better than I am; in yet
another, a disposition untouched by earthly longings or any love of
the world; in a word, I delight to see the growth and fruitfulness in
the spirit as shown by all of you in all divers ways.
Are we not thus all walking together and knit together by our heavenly
impulse, and by the holy prayers of my father [Abbot Plato?]? I wonder
not a little, and surely this is worthy of wonder. Yet I
tremble above measure every day. For what if God, seeing how idle and
unprofitable is my service, and waxing wroth against my sins, were to
withdraw His favourable hand from the midst of us? For then there
might come upon us what to speak were unfitting, or even to think, such
a thing as discord, or slackness of soul, or a falling away,
whether secret or manifest.
To the end, therefore, that you may confirm me--unworthy as I am--and
yourselves, in the lot of the saints and the inheritance of the
righteous, and in all good repute, keep to these same things,
my children, or rather press on further still, in discipline and in zeal,
from glory to glory, from knowledge to knowledge, from our citizenship to
a citizenship meet for God; swerving not from what you have resolved and
agreed upon in the presence of God and of the angels, and of my humble self.
Let us not become slack, nor lose heart if the time seems long -- though in
truth it is not long -- for our life is but a dream and a shadow. And since
we should become yet more humble and obedient by the study of the inspired
Scriptures, let us beware lest we be puffed up in the vanity of our mind,
so as to make our knowledge an occasion of evil, and likewise also our
power in speech and argument, our experience, our skill, our correctness
in framing and uttering our words; our good reading, or maybe our subtlety,
our skill of hand, our psalmody, our learning, our skill in music, our
culture, and the like. But let the gift of these things be to us rather a
cause of fear and of self-abasement before God who has given them.
For thus we shall find God merciful, -- or rather bountiful, and ready to
give us yet more, that we may be filled with good things. And we shall be
a holy temple to God, beautified with gifts upon gifts. But if we shall
become presumptuous towards God, and seek to lord it over our brethren,
stretching up, as it were, the neck of our souls, and raising our eyebrows
and hoisting our shoulders and walking boastfully, seeking this or that,
judging others in our pride and foolishness: -- asking ever "why are not
things otherwise?" or "why have not I the charge of this matter?" or "why
should this man have the management of that business?" -- if we act thus,
we are indeed vain and foolish, and are like those in the proverb who pour
water into leaky vessels.
Not so, my brethren, not so. Let us not make our opportunities a
cause of destruction or the day of work a day of loss; nor, when we
may mount the walls of virtue, slip down into vice. Our opportunity
is great, our days are delightful. For they are spent in following
the commandments of God, in attaining everlasting wealth, in
purchasing the kingdom of Heaven. Let us run, let us hasten. I
exhort you, I beseech you. I would kneel before you and implore you
as my inmost life and all my joy, my boasting and my crown, my glory
and praise. Those who have affirmed and those who have denied; those
who have followed the way for long and those who are new to it; those
from distant folds and those bred among us; all now of one herd and
one flock, of one fold and one charge, nurslings of one shepherd!
Let us think no more of evil that might come. May you live thus and
strive thus and be perfected thus in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom
be the glory and the power with the Father and the Holy Spirit now
and forever. Amen.
The St. Pachomius Orthodox Library, April-May 1995
Have mercy, O Lord, upon Thy servants the translator Alice and the
scribes Paul, David, and Edward.
THE END, AND TO GOD BE THE GLORY!