Friday, July 30, 2021

Doctor of Homilies

Today is the feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, Doctor of the Church. He was bishop of Ravenna during a period in which Ravenna was the capital of the western Roman Empire; Pope St. Sixtus III is said to have appointed him outside the normal procedures because he had a vision in which St. Peter the Apostle and St. Apollinaris of Ravenna showed him a young man. When Peter arrived shortly afterward in a delegation from Ravenna, the Pope recognized him from his vision and, ignoring the preferred candidates, appointed him directly. An excellent preacher, his nickname, 'Chrysologus', means 'Golden Word', and is usually thought to have been given to him by Galla Placidia, the emperor's mother, with whom he had a fruiful partnership in the building of churches and the distribution of alms. He died July 31, 450.

Do you want to know, O man, what you owe to God? That you have been created is credit from God; that you are capable of reason is a loan from God; that you possess the ability to distinguish good from evil is something you have received; and that you pledged to follow completely the rule for living according to the bond of the Law as God drew it up, you are not able to deny. 

Meanwhile you act like a pig and wallow in mud through the vices of the flesh, and living like a beast on all fours, you are deprived of the reason with which you were endowed; in the raging waters of your sins you confuse good with evil because you have lost the ability to distinguish between them, and you squander the substance of the divine Law. Therefore, captivated by worldly pleasure you have become a lamentable debtor of a glorious loan. Regarding one who fails to reap any profit in the virtues, the interest compounded from sins is multiplied. 

But although you have fallen in this matter, although you have fallen headlong into these calamities, take care that you do not lose hope, O man; you still have the means to make amends to your very merciful Creditor. Do you want to be absolved? Then love. 

[Sermon 94, sections 5-6, from St. Peter Chrysologus, Selected Sermons, Volume 2, William Palardy, tr. Catholic University of America (Washington, DC: 2004).]