The Good of Patience
THE GOOD OF PATIENCE by St. Cyprian
In speaking of patience, beloved brethren, and in preaching on its benefits and advantages, how can I better begin than by pointing out the fact that now, just for you to listen to me, I see that patience is necessary, as you could not even do this, namely, listen and learn, without patience. For only then is the word of God and way of salvation effectively learned, if one listens with patience to what is being said. Nor do I find, beloved brethren, among all the ways of heavenly discipline whereby we Christians are directed to seek the God-given rewards of our hope and faith, any other thing that is preferable, whether as more useful for life or more significant in attaining glory, than that we who are subject to the precepts of the Lord with an obedient fear and devotion should maintain patience especially and with extreme care.
Philosophers also declare that they pursue this virtue, but their patience is as false as is their wisdom, for how can anyone be either wise or patient unless he knows the wisdom and patience of God? For He Himself warns and states concerning those who think that they are wise in this world: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the prudence of the prudent I will reject.' Likewise the blessed Apostle Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit and sent to call and to form the Gentiles in the faith, declares and teaches, saying: 'See to it that no one ravages you by philosophy and vain deceit, according to human traditions, according to the elements of the world and not according to Christ, for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead.' And in another place he says: 'Let no one deceive himself. If anyone of you thinks he is wise, let him become foolish in the eyes of this world that he may become wise, for the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. For it is written: I will catch the wise in their craftiness, and again: God knows the thoughts of the wise that they are foolish.' Therefore, if their wisdom is not true, their patience cannot be true either. For if that man who is humble and meek is patient, and yet we see that the philosophers are not humble or meek, but very pleasing to themselves, and displeasing to God by the very fact that they are pleasing to themselves, it is evident that patience is not found where there is the arrogant boldness of an affected freedom and the shameless boasting of the proud and half-naked breast.
We, however, beloved brethren, are philosophers not in words but in deeds; we exhibit our wisdom not by our dress, but by truth; we know virtues by their practice rather than through boasting of them; we do not speak great things but we live them. Therefore, as servants and worshipers of God, let us show by spiritual homage the patience that we learn from heavenly teachings. For that virtue we have in common with God. In Him patience has its beginning, and from Him as its source it takes its splendor and dignity. The origin and greatness of patience proceeds from God its Author. The quality that is dear to God ought to be loved by man. The Divine Majesty commends the good which He loves. If God is our Master and our Father, let us strive after the patience of Him who is both our Master and our Father, because it is fitting that servants be obedient and it is not proper that sons be unworthy.
But how wonderful and how great is the patience of God! He endures most patiently the profane temples, the earthly images and idolatrous rites that have been set up by men in insult to His majesty and honor. He makes the day to rise and the sun to shine equally over the good and the evil. When He waters the earth with showers no one is excluded from His benefits, but He bestows His rains without distinction on the just and the unjust alike. We see that, at the will of God, with an indivisible uniformity of patience toward the guilty and the innocent, the religious and the impious, the grateful and the ungrateful, the seasons obey and the elements serve, the winds blow, fountains flow, harvests increase in abundance, the fruits of the vines ripen, trees are heavy with fruit, the groves become green, and the meadows burst into flower. And although God is provoked by frequent, yes even continual, offenses, He tempers His anger and patiently waits for the day of retribution which He once foreordained. And although vengeance is in His power, He prefers to be long-suffering in His patience, that is, waiting steadfastly and delaying in His mercy, so that, if it is at all possible, the long career of malice at some time may change, and man, however deeply he is infected with the contagion of error and crime, may be converted to God even at a late hour, as He Himself warns and says: 'I desire not the death of him that dieth, as much as that he return and live.' (And again: 'Return to Me, saith the Lord.') And again: 'Return to the Lord your God for He is merciful and loving and patient and rich in pity, and one who turns aside His judgment in respect to the evils proposed.' The blessed apostle Paul, calling back the sinner to penance by reminding him of this, putting the question says: 'Or do you despise the wealth of His goodness and His long-suffering and patience? Dost thou not know that the patience and goodness o£ God is meant to lead you to repentance? But thou, according to thy hardness and thy unrepentant heart, dost treasure up to thyself wrath on the day of wrath and of the revelation of the just judgment of God who will render to every man according to his works.' He said that the judgment of God is just, because it is delayed; because it is postponed repeatedly and for a long time, so that care and thought may be taken for man's eternal life by the long-enduring patience of God. Punishment is finally paid by the impious and the sinner when repentance of the sin can no longer avail.
And in order that we may be able to understand more fully, beloved brethren, that patience is an attribute of God and that whoever is gentle, patient, and meek is an imitator of God the Father, when in His gospel the Lord was giving salutary precepts and in revealing the divine counsels was instructing His disciples unto perfection, He made this pronouncement: 'You have heard that it was said: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor and shalt hate thy enemy." But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be the children of your father in heaven, who makes his sun to rise on the good and evil and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward shall you have? Do not even the publicans act thus? And if you salute your brethren only, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do that? You, therefore, will be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.' He said that it is in this way that the sons of God are made perfect; He showed that it is in this way that we attain our goal, and He taught that we are restored by a heavenly birth, if the patience of God the Father abide in us, if the divine likeness which Adam lost by sin be manifested and shine in our actions. What glory it is to become like God! What wonderful and what great happiness it is to possess among our virtues what can be put on a par with the divine merits!
And this, beloved brethren, Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, did not teach by words only, but He also fulfilled it by His deeds. And He who said that He came down for this purpose, namely, to do the will of His Father, among the other miracles of virtue by which He gave proof of His divine majesty, also preserved and exemplified His Father's patience by His habitual forbearance. Accordingly, His every act right from the very outset of His coming is marked by an accompanying patience; for from the first moment of His descent from the sublimity of heaven to earthly things, He did not disdain, though the Son of God, to put on man's flesh, and although He Himself was not a sinner, to bear the sins of others. Having put aside His immortality for a time, He suffered Himself to become mortal, in order that, though innocent, He might be slain for the salvation of the guilty. The Lord was baptized by His servant, and He, although destined to grant the remission of sins, did not Himself disdain to have His body cleansed with the water of regeneration. He, through whom others are fed, fasted for forty days; He felt hunger and starvation so that those who were famished for the Word of God and grace might be filled with the Bread of Heaven; He engaged in conflict with the devil who tempted Him, and content with having vanquished so formidable an enemy, He did not carry the fight beyond words. He did not rule His disciples as a master rules his slaves, but being both kind and gentle, He loved them as a brother, even deigning to wash the feet of His apostles, so that, while He was such a Master to His servants, He might teach by His example the attitude that a fellow servant ought to have toward his companions and equals. We should not wonder then that He was such a one among His disciples, who was able to tolerate Judas, even to the end, with enduring patience, who could eat with His enemy, who could know the foe in His household and not reveal him, who could not refuse the kiss of His betrayer. But what wonderful equanimity in bearing with the Jews, and what wonderful patience in persuading the unbelieving to accept the faith, in winning the ungrateful by kindness, in responding gently to those who contradicted Him, in enduring the proud with mercy, in yielding with humility to persecutors, in wishing to win over the murderers of the prophets and those persistently rebellious against God even to the very hour of His passion and cross!
But in that very hour of His passion and cross, before they had come to the cruel act of His slaughter and the shedding of His blood, what violent abuses He listened to with patience, and what shameful insults He endured! He was even covered with the spittle of His revilers, when, but a short time before, with His own spittle He had cured the eyes of the blind man. He Himself suffered the lash, in whose name His servants now scourge the devil and His angels. He who now crowns the martyrs with eternal garlands was Himself crowned with thorns; He who now gives true palms to the victors was beaten in the face with hostile palms; He who clothes all others with the garment of immortality was stripped of His earthly garment; He who has given the food of heaven was fed with gall; He who has offered us the cup of salvation was given vinegar to drink. He the innocent, He the just, nay rather, Innocence Itself and Justice Itself is counted among criminals, and Truth is concealed by false testimonies. He who is to judge is judged, and the Word of God, silent, is led to the cross. And although the stars are confounded at the crucifixion of the Lord, the elements are disturbed, the earth trembles, night blots out the day, the sun withdraws both its rays and its eyes lest it be forced to gaze upon the crime of the Jews, yet He does not speak, nor is He moved, nor does He proclaim His majesty, even during the suffering itself. He endures all things even to the end with constant perseverance so that in Christ a full and perfect patience may find its realization.
And after such sufferings, He even still receives His murderers if they are converted and come to Him, and with a patience instrumental in saving man, this kind Master closes His Church to no one. Those adversaries, those blasphemers, those persistent enemies of His name, provided they do penance for their offense, provided they acknowledge the crime committed, He not only receives and pardons, but admits to the reward of the kingdom o£ heaven. What can be called more patient, what more kind? Even he who shed the blood of Christ is given life by the blood of Christ. Such is the wonderful patience of Christ. And unless it were so wonderful in character, the Church would not have Paul the great Apostle.
But if we also, beloved brethren, are in Christ, if we put Him on, if He Himself is the way of our salvation, let us who follow in the salutary footsteps of Christ walk by the example of Christ as John the Apostle teaches, saying: 'He who says that he abides in Christ ought himself also to walk just as He walked.' Likewise Peter, on whom the Lord had deemed it worthy for His Church to be founded, writes in his letter and says: 'Christ also has suffered for you, leaving you an example that you may follow in His steps, "Who did no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth," who when He was reviled, did not revile in turn, when He suffered did not threaten, but yielded Himself to Him who judged Him unjustly.'
We find accordingly that the patriarchs and prophets and all the just, who set up in their persons the type of Christ as a prefiguration, have treasured nothing in the estimation of their virtues more than the fact that they preserved patience with a strong and stable equanimity. So Abel, as the first one to inaugurate and dedicate martyrdom and the suffering of the just, did not resist or struggle against his brother the parricide, but in humble and gentle patience allowed himself to be killed. So Abraham, trusting God and being the first to establish the root and foundation of faith, when he was tempted in regard to his son, did not hesitate or delay but obeyed the commands of God with a full and devoted patience. And Isaac, prefigured in the likeness of the Lord as victim, was found to be patient when he was offered by his father to be sacrificed. When Jacob was driven from his own land on account of his brother, he departed patiently and, with greater patience afterward, humbly petitioning by means of peaceful gifts, he restored to harmony his still more impious brother and persecutor. Joseph, sold by his brothers and banished, not only patiently forgave but even generously and kindly bestowed free grain on them when they came to him. Moses was often scorned by an ungrateful and faithless people and almost stoned, and yet with mildness and patience he prayed to the Lord in their behalf. But what great and wonderful and Christian patience is to be found in David, from whom Christ descended according to the flesh! David often had the opportunity to kill King Saul, his persecutor, who was eager to destroy him. Yet when Saul was subject to him and in his power, David preferred to save his life and did not retaliate on his enemy but, on the contrary, even avenged him when he was killed. In short, many prophets have been killed, many martyrs have been honored with glorious deaths, and all have attained their heavenly crowns through the merit of patience, for a crown for sorrow and suffering cannot be obtained unless patience in sorrow and suffering precede.
But in order that it can be more manifestly and more fully known, beloved brethren, how useful and necessary patience is, let us consider the judgment of God which, at the very beginning of the world and of the human race, was passed upon Adam who was unmindful of God's command and a transgressor of the law that was imposed. Then we shall know how patient we ought to be in this world, we who are born under the condition that we must struggle here under trials and conflicts. 'Because you have listened,' He said, 'to the voice of your wife and you have eaten of that tree from which alone I commanded you not to eat, cursed will be the earth in all your works; in sorrow and mourning you shall eat from it all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you and you shall eat of the food of the field. In the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread till you return from the ground from which you were taken, since you are earth and shall return to earth.' We are all bound and confined by the bond of this sentence until, having paid the debt of death, we leave this world. We must be in sorrow and lamentation all the days of our life. And we must eat our bread with sweat and labor.
Hence when anyone is born and enters the abode of this world, he begins with tears. Although even then inexperienced and ignorant of all things, he can do nothing else at his birth except weep. With natural foresight he laments the anxieties and labors of this mortal life, and at its very beginning, by weeping and lamentations his young soul testifies to the trials of the world which he is entering. For he toils and labors as long as he lives here. Nothing else can relieve those who labor and toil more than the consolation derived from patience. This is not only proper and necessary for everyone in this world, but even more for us who, through the onslaughts of the devil, are more harassed; who, standing daily in the front of the battle, are wearied by our combats with an old and well-trained enemy; who, in addition to the various and constant attacks of temptations and in the struggle of persecution, must relinquish our patrimonies, who must endure prison, bear chains, give up our lives, who must undergo the sword, beasts, fire, the cross, in short, all kinds of tortures and punishments, relying on our faith and the virtue of patience, for the Lord Himself teaches and says: 'These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace; in the world, however, you will have affliction; but take courage: I have overcome the world.' If, however, we who have renounced the devil and the world suffer trials and the attacks of the devil and the world more frequently and more violently, how much more ought we to maintain patience, with which, as our helper and companion, we may endure all afflictions.
It is a salutary precept of our Lord and Master: 'He who has endured even to the end will be saved.' And again: 'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.' We must endure and persevere, beloved brethren, so that, having been admitted to the hope of truth and liberty, we can finally attain that same truth and liberty, because the very fact that we are Christians is a source of faith and hope. However, in order that hope and faith may reach their fruition, there is need of patience. For we do not strive for present glory, but for a future one, according to what Paul the Apostle teaches, saying: 'For in hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope. For how can a man hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.' Patient waiting is necessary that we may fulfill what we have begun to be, and through God's help, that we may obtain what we hope for and believe. Accordingly, in another place, that same Apostle instructs and teaches the just and those who do works and those who lay up for themselves heavenly treasures from the increase of divine interest to be patient also, for he says: 'Therefore while we have time, let us do good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of faith. And in doing good let us not grow tired, for in due time we shall reap.' He warns lest anyone, through lack of patience, grow tired in his good work; lest anyone, either diverted or overcome by temptations, should stop in the middle of his course of praise and glory and his past works be lost, while those things which had begun to be perfect, cease, as it is written: 'The justice of the just shall not deliver him in what day soever he shall err.' And again: 'Hold fast what thou hast, that no other receive thy crown.' And these words urge patient and resolute perseverance, so that he who strives for a crown, now with praise already near, may be crowned because his patience endures.
Patience, however, beloved brethren, not only preserves what is good, but also repels what is evil. Devoted to the Holy Spirit and cleaving to heavenly and divine things, it struggles with the bulwark of its virtues against the acts of the flesh and the body whereby the soul is stormed and captured. Accordingly, let us look at a few out of many of these acts, so that from these few, all the rest may be understood. Adultery, deceit, homicide, are mortal sins. Let patience be strong and stable in the heart, and then the sanctified body and temple of God will not be corrupted by adultery, innocence dedicated to justice will not be infected by the contagion of deceit, and the hand that has held the Eucharist will not be sullied by the bloodstained sword.
Charity is the bond of brotherhood, the foundation of peace, the steadfastness and firmness of unity; it is greater than both hope and faith; it excels both good works and suffering of the faith; and, as an eternal virtue, it will abide with us forever in the kingdom of heaven. Take patience away from it, and thus forsaken, it will not last; take away the substance of enduring and tolerating, and it attempts to last with no roots or strength. Accordingly, the Apostle when he was speaking about charity joined tolerance and patience to it, saying: 'Charity is magnanimous, charity is kind, charity does not envy, is not puffed up, is not provoked, thinks no evil, loves all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.' By this he showed that charity can persevere steadfastly because it has learned how to endure all things. And in another place he says: 'bearing with one another in love, taking every care to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the union of peace.' He proved that neither unity nor peace can be preserved unless brothers cherish one another with mutual forbearance and preserve the bond of unity with patience as intermediary.
How then will you be able to endure these things--not to swear or curse, not to seek again what has been taken away from you, on receiving a blow to offer the other cheek also to your assailant, to forgive your brother who offends you not only seventy times seven times, but all his offenses without exception, to love your enemies, to pray for your adversaries and persecutors, if you do not have the steadfastness of patience and forbearance? We see what happened in the case of Stephen. When he was being killed by the violence and stones of the Jews, he did not ask for vengeance but forgiveness for his murderers, saying: 'O Lord, do not lay this sin against them.' So it was most fitting that the first martyr for Christ who, in preceding by his glorious death the martyrs that were to come, was not only a preacher of the Lord's suffering but also an imitator of His most patient gentleness. What shall I say of anger, of discord, of contention, evils which a Christian ought not to have? Let there be patience in the heart and these evil things can not have a place there; or if they attempt to enter, on being quickly driven out, they depart, so that the heart may continue to be a peaceful dwelling where the God of peace may delight to abide. Accordingly, the Apostle admonishes and teaches, saying: 'Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and indignation, and clamor, and reviling, be removed from you.' For if a Christian has withdrawn from the fury and contention of the flesh as from the storms of the sea, and has now begun to be tranquil and gentle in the harbor of Christ, he ought not to admit into his heart either anger or discord, for it is not right for him to render evil for evil or to hate.
Likewise, patience is also necessary in respect to the various hardships of the flesh and frequent and cruel torments of the body by which the human race is daily wearied and oppressed. For since in that first transgression of God's command strength of body departed with immortality, and infirmity entered the body by death, and since strength cannot be regained except when immortality shall have been regained, it is necessary to keep struggling and contending in this state of bodily weakness and infirmity; and this struggle and strife can not be endured without the strength of patience. But different kinds of sufferings are imposed on us to test and prove us, and many forms of temptations are inflicted upon us by loss of wealth, burning fevers, torments of wounds, by the death of dear ones. Nothing else distinguishes the unjust and just the more than this, that in adversities the unjust man complains and blasphemes because of impatience, while the just man is proved by patience, as it is written: 'In thy sorrow endure and in thy humiliation keep patience, for gold and silver are tried in the fire.'
Thus Job was examined and proved and raised to the pinnacle of praise because of the virtue of patience. How many weapons of the devil were hurled against him! How many torments were inflicted on him! He suffered the loss of his property, he was bereft of his numerous progeny; a master rich in wealth and a father richer in children was suddenly neither master nor father. Cruel wounds attacked his body and a scourge of devouring worms consumed his dissolving and decaying limbs. And lest anything at all might remain which Job had not experienced in his trials, the devil even armed his wife against him, using that ancient device of his wickedness, as if he could deceive and cheat all men through a woman as he did in the beginning. Nevertheless, Job was not broken by these heavy and continuous assaults, and in spite of these trials and afflictions he extolled the praise of God by his victorious patience. Tobias also, who after his magnificent work of justice and mercy was tempted by the loss of his eyes, endured his blindness with great patience and gained outstanding merit with God through the renown of his patience.
And, beloved brethren, that the good of patience may shine forth more brightly, let us consider, on the other hand, what evil impatience causes. For as patience is a good of Christ, so, on the contrary, impatience is an evil of the devil; and as the man in whom Christ lives and abides is found to be a patient man, so he is always impatient whose mind is possessed by the wickedness of the devil. Accordingly, let us consider the origins of impatience. The devil bore with impatience the fact that man was made to the image of God, and for this reason was the first to perish and cause to perish. Adam, in violation of the heavenly command, was incapable of resisting the desire of the deadly food and fell into the death of sin; he did not preserve, under the guardianship of patience, the grace received from God. Cain was impatient of his brother's sacrifice and gift and killed him. Because Esau put lower things before higher, he lost his birthright through impatience for the lentils. Why was the Jewish people faithless and ungrateful toward the divine blessings? Was it not that this crime of impatience first drew them away from God? When they could not bear the delay of Moses speaking with God they dared to demand profane gods, and to proclaim as leader of their journey the head of a calf and an earthly image. They never abandoned this same fault of impatience, but always impatient of the divine teaching and guidance, by killing all their prophets and all just men, they hastened to the cross and to the shedding of the blood of the Lord. Impatience also produces heretics in the Church, and, after the manner of the Jews, it drives them, as rebels against the peace and charity of Christ, to hostile acts and furious hates. And not to be tedious by giving details, all things without exception which patience by its works builds unto glory, impatience reduces to ruin.
And so, beloved brethren, after the benefits of patience and the evils of impatience have been carefully weighed, let us observe fully and maintain the patience through which we abide in Christ and with Christ are able to come to God. That patience, rich and manifold, is not confined within a narrow compass or restrained by bounds of small extent. The virtue of patience extends widely and its wealth and abundance proceed from a source that has indeed a single name, but with its full-flowing streams it is diffused through many glorious courses, and nothing in our actions can avail towards the full realization of merit which does not take the power for its accomplishment from that source. It is patience that both commends us to God and saves us for God. It is that same patience which tempers anger, bridles the tongue, governs the mind, guards peace, rules discipline, breaks the onslaught of lust, suppresses the violence of pride, extinguishes the fire of dissension, restrains the power of the wealthy, renews the endurance of the poor in bearing their lot, guards the blessed integrity of virgins, the difficult chastity of widows, and the indivisible love of husbands and wives. It makes men humble in prosperity, brave in adversity, meek in the face of injuries and insults. It teaches us to pardon our offenders quickly; if you yourself should offend, it teaches you to ask pardon often and with perseverance. It vanquishes temptations, sustains persecutions, endures sufferings and martyrdoms to the end. It is this patience which strongly fortifies the foundations of our faith. It is this patience which sublimely promotes the growth of hope. It directs our action, so that we can keep to the way of Christ while we make progress because of His forbearance. It ensures our perseverance as sons of God while we imitate the patience of the Father.
And since I know, beloved brethren, that very many, either because of the weight of their pressing injuries or because of resentment toward those who attack them and rage against them, wish to be revenged quickly, I must warn you before I close, that finding ourselves in these storms of a turbulent world and in the midst of the persecutions of the Jews or of the Gentiles or of the heretics, we should patiently await the day of vengeance. We should not hasten to revenge our pain with an angry speed, since it is written: 'Expect Me, saith the Lord, in the day of My resurrection for a testimony, since My judgment is to the congregations of nations that I may receive kings and pour out My anger over them.' The Lord commands us to wait and to endure with a strong patience the day of future vengeance, and He also speaks in the Apocalypse, saying: 'Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because now the time is close at hand and those who persevere in doing wrong, let them do wrong, and he who is filthy, let him be filthy still, but let the just man still do more just things, and likewise the holy man, holier things. Behold I come quickly! and My reward is with Me, to render to each according to his works.' Therefore, even the martyrs as they cry out and as they hasten to their punishment in the intensity of their suffering are still ordered to wait and to show patience until the appointed time is fulfilled and the number of martyrs is complete. And He said: 'When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar of God the souls of those who had been slain for the Word of God and for their own testimony and they cried with a loud voice saying: How long, O Lord, Holy and True, dost thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth. And a white stole was given to each of them and they were told to rest for a little while longer until the number of their fellow-servants and brothers, who are to be slain later even as they had been, should be complete.'
But when the divine vengeance for the blood of the just will come, the Holy Spirit declares through the prophet Malachias, saying: 'Behold the day of the Lord comes glowing as a furnace and all the strangers and all the unjust will be as stubble and the coming day shall set them on fire, saith the Lord.' And we read likewise in the psalms, where it is announced that the coming of God the Judge must be venerated because of the majesty of His judgment: 'God our God shall come revealing Himself and He shall not be silent. A fire shall burn before Him and a mighty tempest shall be about Him. He shall call Heaven on high and earth that he may separate His people. Collect for Him His just men, those who place His testimony in sacrifices and the heavens will announce His justice, for God is the Judge.' And Isaias prophesies the same things, saying: 'For behold the Lord will come like a fire and, like a whirlwind, His carriage, to repay vengeance in anger. For in the fire of the Lord they will be judged and by his sword they will be wounded.' And again: 'The Lord God of Hosts shall go forth and shall threaten war; He shall stir up battle and shall cry over his enemies with strength; I have been silent, shall I be silent always?'
But who is He who says that He was silent formerly and will not always be silent? It is surely He who was led as a sheep to the slaughter and who, like a lamb without making a sound before its shearer, did not open His mouth.' Surely it is He who did not cry out and whose voice was not heard in the streets. Surely it is He who was not stubborn and who did not contradict when He offered His back to the scourges and His cheeks to blows and did not turn away His face from their filthy spittle ; He, who when He was accused by the priests and elders, answered nothing and, to the amazement of Pilate, kept a most patient silence. He is the One who, although He was silent in His passion, will not be silent later in the day of reckoning. He is our God, that is, the God not recognized by all but by the faithful and those who believe, and when He comes manifesting Himself in His second coming, He will not be silent. For although He was formerly hidden in humility, He will come manifested in power.
This is the Judge and the Avenger, beloved brethren, that we are to await who, when He revenges Himself, is destined to revenge us, the people of His Church and the number of all the just from the beginning of the world. Let him who hastens and hurries too much to his own revenge consider that He alone who avenges has not yet avenged Himself. (God the Father commanded that His Son be adored and the Apostle Paul, mindful of the divine precept, declares this and says: 'God has exalted Him and has bestowed upon Him that name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus all should bend the knee, of those in heaven, on earth, and of those under the earth'; and) in the Apocalypse, when John wishes to adore him, the Angel resists him and says: 'Thou must not do this because I am a fellow servant of you and of your brothers. Adore Jesus the Lord.' How wonderful then is Jesus our Lord, and what great patience this is that He who is adored in heaven is not yet avenged on earth! Let us think of His patience, beloved brethren, in our persecutions and sufferings. Let us show the full obedience that is inspired by our expectation of His coming, and let us not hasten with the impious and shameless haste of a servant to defend ourselves before the Lord. Let us rather persevere and let us labor, and watchful with all our heart and steadfast even to total resignation, let us guard the precepts of the Lord, so that when the day of wrath and vengeance comes, we may not be punished with the impious and sinners but may be honored with the just and those who fear God.