Monday, February 23, 2004

Saint Peter Chrysologus (5th Century)- Sermon on the Lenten Fast

Consider the fast of Lent, which the whole Church takes up tomorrow with solemn devotion. Now, that number forty is something so sacred from antiquity, and it is found to be so mystical, that by some unbreakable law it is written as a number which is always used to accomplish divine objects and to explain important affairs of God.

For forty days and nights rain was poured out to purify the earth. This happened that the world might rejoice over its second birth by such a baptism, and that the earth, which previously was producing men born for death, might produce them now as men reborn unto life.

Notice, brethren, how important that number forty is. Then, it opened up the heavens for the cleansing of the earth; now, through the font of baptism, it opens the world for the renewal of the nations. Rightly do we run through the fast of forty days to arrive at the font of baptism and salvation.

The rain of manna fed the Jewish people for forty years in the desert. It took away the toil of human labor, and by its pleasant dew offered and spread out heavenly produce for the hungry.

Moses himself was so purified and freed from his body by a fast of forty days that his whole self took on a glorious appearance of divinity. From this he learned that the sustenance of life does not fail those who live in God’s sight and with Him.

Therefore, all of this is the reason why the Lord, Author from all eternity of the symbolic mystery hidden in this number, kept His own fast within that number of forty days of fast, that Truth itself might bring to fulfillment these deeds and beginnings which He had already outlined in the case of these servants; that He might strengthen what was tender, complete what was begun, and strengthen by His example what He had set us by commands.

Let the fast be one properly measured. And, as we received from tradition, let it be observed for the discipline of both the body and the soul.

No comments: