Lumen Scholasticum

Elucubrations, translations, and commentary from a Scholastic and Catholic integralist perspective

Category: Scriptural Sermons and Commentaries

Denis the Carthusian on rulers: Commentary on Wisdom 6:1-12

In keeping with the theme of the recent election, we today present part of Denis the Carthusian’s Enarratio on the sixth chapter of the book of Wisdom, wherein the sacred author exhorts princes to wisdom. An unexpected but lovely tidbit is Denis’ brief reference to Gelasian dyarchy, on which the good Pater Edmund Waldstein’s essay is highly recommended.

Wisdom is better than strength, and a wise man is better than a strong man. Hear therefore, ye kings, and understand: learn, ye that are judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear, you that rule the people, and that please yourselves in multitudes of nations: For power is given you by the Lord, and strength by the most High, who will examine your works, and search out your thoughts: Because being ministers of his kingdom, you have not judged rightly, nor kept the law of justice, nor walked according to the will of God. Horribly and speedily will he appear to you: for a most severe judgment shall be for them that bear rule. For to him that is little, mercy is granted: but the mighty shall be mightily tormented. For God will not except any man’s person, neither will he stand in awe of any man’s greatness: for he made the little and the great, and he hath equally care of all. But a greater punishment is ready for the more mighty. To you, therefore, O kings, are these my words, that you may learn wisdom, and not fall from it. For they that have kept just things justly, shall be justified: and they that have learned these things, shall find what to answer. Covet ye therefore my words, and love them, and you shall have instruction.


Elucidation of the sixth Chapter: Hear therefore, ye kings, and understand.

The author here admonishes to the desire and love of wisdom: and because this is most of all necessary for those who rule, he addresses them first. Hear therefore, ye kings, and understand: that is, since so horrendous a condemnation threatens the wicked, wisdom is also better than corporeal power; therefore hear with the ears of the body, and understand what is heard with the ears of the mind; learn the things which I shall say, ye that are judges of the ends of the earth, that is, of men dwelling everywhere on the earth, that you might be able to teach others also. For each man is held to know, and most diligently ought to learn those things which pertain to his state and position: so far as according to the exigence of his vocation, he may walk worthily for God; and he who is constituted in some office, let him carry that out in a satisfactory manner. Give ear, that is, of the heart and the body, through diligent listening, you that rule [continetis], that is, you who hold subjects to yourselves, and preserve them in one polity, law, or observance, or restrain them from transgressions, multitudes of men. Indeed, those who are subjected to the same superior, by comparison to it are one body, one collection, one community, and they are compared to it as members to head. And you that please yourselves in multitudes of nations, that is, you who have pleasure in your primacy or presidency over the crowds of subjects. But to be thus pleased is something of elation, ambition, insipience, and vainglory, since Gregory says: “Howsoever many times any ruler is pleased to be placed over men, so many times does he fall into the sin of apostasy.” And indeed, such a one thinks his office to be of the highest rank, and the dignity and elevation of himself, and not as a burden and a servitude: neither does he ponder the severity of the divine judgment, nor his own insufficiency. But to be delighted in the fruit of the office, or the worthy execution thereof, or in the office on account of fruits of this sort, and this only in the Lord, reckoning every good to Him with humble thanks, is not illicit.

Finally, in these words, by “kings,” “judges,” and “princes,” are to be understood the primates of both laws; namely, governors so much spiritual as secular; indeed, and chiefly those who are spiritual, whose dignity is much greater, and who are obliged to greater perfection. These two laws, are the two swords, and two eyes, and two great luminaries in the very body of the Church; but as the sun is greater and more brilliant than the moon, so the more excellent and luminous is the spiritual power than the secular. And just as the sun illuminates the moon, so the spiritual has to teach and direct the secular, as the soul does the body. Read the rest of this entry »

Bonaventure, Sermon III for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost

This is a rather late posting; the sermon itself was quite a bit longer than we had first realized, and we also encountered difficulties with the text of the Vivès Opera omnia: there were some troublesome typos which tripped us up for an embarrassing measure of time. But happily, this experience has taught us that we ought to make use of the more recent and more critical Quaracchi edition of Bonaventure’s works rather than the Vivès.

Another interesting lesson is that, at least according to the Quaracchi, the previous two sermons which we have translated are likely not even Bonaventure’s! There are several sermons which he gave for Dominica XXIII post Pentecosten which have similar expositions, but the text is quite different: this sermon here translated is, it would seem, the only one in the Vivès for that Sunday which is genuinely his. We will keep these differences of text (and the authority thereof) in mind when next we undertake to translate his sermons.

Sermon the Third.

Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole.[1] Because it is the custom of a good physician, for the comfort of the one ill, to praise the efficacy of the medicine received by extolling it in multiple ways, hence it is that our Lord Jesus Christ, the physician of bodies and souls, for the comfort of this infirm woman desiring to be saved by him, condescended to show usefully beforehand the efficacy of the spiritual medicine, that is, of the faith which heals every feebleness, when he says in the words given: Be of good heart, daughter, etc. Here there is first of all noted the divine honor of gratuitous adoption, when he says: Daughter; secondly, the tender compassion of virtuous animation, when he says also: Be of good heart; thirdly, the necessary instruction of his healing, when it is subjoined: Thy faith hath made thee whole. Read the rest of this entry »

St. Bonaventure, Sermons I and II for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost

The following are the first two sermons of St. Bonaventure for the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost according to the old lectionary, translated from vol. 13 of the Vivès edition of his Opera omnia. We must apologize for the tardiness of these, as we had original intended to have them up this past Wednesday—but sloth and other projects prevented us. The third and final of the sermons ought to be posted sometime tomorrow.

We hope to make translations such as these a regular Sunday feature on our blog: we have been trying to make a habit of reading the sermons of St. Bonaventure for the lections at Mass each Sunday and have found his words to be fruitful and insightful. In addition, we consult the sermons of Dionysius Cartusianus from time to time, and hope to provide translations of some of his writings as well when the occasion seems opportune (e.g. on feast days which are not found in Bonaventure, and the like).

The readings for last Sunday were Phil 3:17-21, 4:1-3; Matt 9:18-26.

Dominica XXIII post Pentecosten.[1]

Sermon the First.

Lord, my daughter is even now dead; but come, lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. Your daughter is your soul, deceased through guilt, over which the hand of Christ is placed through grace. Now the hand to be placed over, is the grace of His mercy. Christ’s operation does four things in us: it purges guilt, repairs nature, confers grace, and prepares for glory.

Concerning the first, that it purges guilt, this is said: My daughter is even now, etc. The raising of this daughter is the justification of the sinner’s soul, about which three things are here signified, namely, the recognition of one’s guilt, where it is said: My daughter, that is, my soul, and not that of another. For some impose the death of their guilt upon the souls of others, as was signed when one of the harlots says: “My child liveth, and thy child is dead.”[2] Likewise the swift conversion, where it says: Even now: it says not: Last year, but: Even now. “Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it not from day to day. For his wrath shall come on a sudden, and in the time of vengeance he will destroy thee.”[3] “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven,” etc.[4] Woe to him, therefore, whose soul dies, not presently, but before thirty or forty years, and still he does not ask for it to be raised up. With how many tears and cries of prayers is the soul dead for forty years to be raised up, when Lazarus, dead for four days, is raised by the tears and mourning cries of Christ! Similarly the request for favor, where it says: lay thy hand, etc. O the power and the grace of this hand! “And Jesus stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean.”[5] Read the rest of this entry »