Words too Seldom Heard Today

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And some, perhaps, would say that is all to the good. I tend to think otherwise. We would do well to hear that a life of holiness is NOT a natural concomittant of the human estate. Rather it is achieved only through rough toil and hard grace.

from Sermons on Black Letter Days or Minor Festivals of the Church of England
John Mason Neale



ONE of Satan's most favourite temptations, (no doubt because he has found it one of the most useful,) is this, that it is a very easy thing to be saved. "What is the use," he asks us, "of taking so much pains? Other people lead easy lives, and please themselves, and are thought good fathers, and good neighbours, and good Christians, and they will do very well; and why need you try to be better than they? All will come right at last, and your prayers and your efforts to keep GOD'S law so very strictly are quite needless. Do as the world does, and do not pretend to be more religious than your neighbours."

We know that this is a temptation, and we ought not to be deceived by it. We know that to live a good life is a trade, like every other trade; that, if we do not take the utmost pains, we shall never learn it at all; and that, with all the pains we can take, we shall find it a difficult matter enough to succeed; "The righteous shall scarcely be saved." It will, as the common saying is, be a very near thing. "We want all the helps we can have; we must take all that we can get, and thank GOD that we can get so many.

Now, in looking round me to see what help to lead good lives you might have which as yet you have not, I see one which, with GOD'S grace, we will try. And this evening I will explain to you what it is, and how we may use it.

You know that, ever since I first came amongst you, we have always observed those days which we commonly call Saints' Days; that is, those Festivals of Saints for which an Epistle and Gospel are appointed. And they are those of the twelve Apostles, of S. John the Baptist, of the Conversion of S. Paul, of the Holy Innocents, of S. Barnabas, and of S. Stephen, besides the glorious festival of All Saints. Before GOD, perhaps for our own sins, suffered wicked men to take away from us the power of celebrating the Holy Communion, we always, as some of you well remember, celebrated it on those days. And, even now, we go oftener into chapel; and in the evening, as you know, I speak to you of the lesson that we should learn from the Festival which we are then keeping.

But now, if you look in the Calendar at the beginning of the Prayer Book, you will find a great many other days marked with the name of some Saint. Take January, for example. On the 8th you find the name of S. Lucian; on the 13th, of S. Hilary; on the 18th, of S. Prisca; on the 20th, of S. Fabian; on the 21st, of S. Agnes; on the 22nd, of S. Vincent. There are six days, then, which the Church sets before us, as the means of helping us in our way to heaven; and which, therefore, I wish that you should understand something about. I do not like that you should only look on them as names which you cannot understand,--as long, difficult words, with which you have nothing to do. I wish that, when you see the altar vested in red, to signify that it is the day of some Martyr who shed his blood for the Name of CHRIST: or, when you see it in white, to set forth to you that we are keeping the feast of some one of those Virgins whom Holy Scripture teaches us to call the brides of the Spotless Lamb; then that you should know something about that Martyr or that Virgin. It is impossible to love those of whom we know nothing. We may believe, indeed, that they were true and faithful servants of CHRIST, and so far we may admire them, and desire to follow their example; but love them we cannot, unless we know something about them on which our love can fix.

Now, therefore, I intend, by GOD'S grace, beginning from this time, as each of these days comes round, to tell you why we keep it, and who it is that we are then called upon to think about. If we were travelling to some place where we were to live all the rest of our lives, should we not wish to know what sort of people we were going among? Should we not be very glad to find any one who could tell us about them? Should we not beg him to let us know what he could, as to their names, and their ways of going on, and what they liked and disliked? We should say, "They are to be my companions by-and-by, and I should like to become acquainted with them as far as I can, before I really go to see them."

So it is with us. We are journeying to the land which the LORD hath promised to them that love Him.

Much of the work is available here

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Steven, thanks so much for the links from Flos Carmeli. Much appreciated, and you always find some of the best material on the site.

Steven, thanks so much for the links from Flos Carmeli. Much appreciated, and you always find some of the best material on the site.

From the other side of the fence, so to speak, thanks for posting the link, as it is a wonderful resource I probably wouldn't have found, otherwise.
Pax et bonum,



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on May 21, 2004 6:54 AM.

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