Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Early Church Father Quote of the Day

Some time ago, I made a few posts on St. Clement of Rome. I did not finish commenting on his epistle but have recently picked it back up. I think some Catholics would do good to remember the words of the 4th pope:

These things therefore being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behoves us to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined offerings [to be presented] and service to be performed [to Him], and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours. Where and by whom He desires these things to be done, He Himself has fixed by His own supreme will, in order that all things, being piously done according to His good pleasure, may be acceptable unto Him. Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord, they sin not. For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve on the Levites. The layman is bound by the laws that pertain to laymen.
As the early Church understood well, Jesus certainly didn't come to bring reform to Judaism in that He meant to abolish liturgy. He ushered in the kingdom of God and the new liturgy (which was the fulfillment of the old). The kingdom of God isn't the sort of internal religiosity preached by those who so vividly paint their 16th century imaginations into the gospels. The first century Church understood that 'the kingdom of God was at hand', and that the Church was the new Israel. They preached a literal, risen Christ.
The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand.
Now as the new Israel, we are the royal family of God. Last Sunday's readings (the first in the season of Lent) were very much about identity. The early Church knew hers and the Catholic Church still does. Some of her members though would do well to do some reflecting on the writings of our Church fathers.

No comments: