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For the Second Wednesday in Advent: John Chrysostom on drinking from the Scriptures continually

December 9, 2015

For the Second Wednesday in Advent, here is a wonderful excerpt from Faith and Life where St. John Chrysostom talks about being continually watered by the waters of life from the Scriptures.

A soul which stands beside the streams of Holy Scripture, and drinks of them continually, gathering into itself these waters, and the dew of the Spirit, will not be overcome by any troublesome circumstances; and whether illness, or reproach, or calumny, or insults, or mockery, or any slothfulness, or all the evils of the world beat down on such a soul, it easily keeps off the flame of painful feelings, while it enjoys sufficient comfort from the reading of the Scriptures. For neither grandeur of dignity, nor the weight of sovereignty, nor the presence of friends, nor any thing else in life, will be so able to console a person in pain as the reading of the Divine Scriptures. Why is this? Because the former are perishable and corruptible, therefore the comfort they give is perishable also; but to read the Scriptures is to converse with God. Accordingly, when God comforts the low-spirited, what earthly thing is able to plunge him into despondency? Let us then “give attendance to the reading,” not for two hours only, but continuously; and let each, when he goes home, take the Bible into his hands, and enter into the meaning of what has been said, if indeed he means to enjoy the benefit of the Scriptures perpetually and sufficiently. For that “tree planted by the water-side” converses with the waters not only for two or three hours, but all day and all night. It is this which makes that tree full of leaf, which makes it heavy with fruit, even though no man waters it; since it stands beside the waters, it draws up moisture through the roots, and diffuses benefit through its whole body as it were by channels; even so he that habitually reads the Divine Scriptures, and stands beside their waters, even though he have no one to interpret them, still through his habitual reading, as it were by roots, derives benefit in large measure.

–St Chrysostom on the Beginning of the Acts, Hom. iii.

I like that analogy of the “tree planted by the water-side.”  There, John Chrysostom is certainly referring to Psalm 1.

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