Let Us Imitate
by Saint Gregory Nazianzen
Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church
This excellent reflection on one of the three pillars of Lenten penance, almsgiving or generosity, is an excerpt from a sermon on the love of poverty by Saint Gregory of Nazianzen (Oratio 14, De Pauperum amore, 23-25: PG 35, 887-890). It is also a very clear statement on stewardship -- that we are stewards, not owners, of the goods entrusted to us which are intended for the benefit of all. This selection is used in the Roman Catholic Office of Readings for Monday of the First week in Lent along with the accompanying biblical reading about the vocation of Moses as found in Exodus 6:2-13. For more resources, devotions, and readings for the 40 days of Lent, visit the Crossroads Lenten library.
Recognize to whom you owe the fact that you exist, that you breathe, that you understand, that you are wise, and, above all, that you know God and hope for the kingdom of heaven and the vision of glory, now darkly as in a mirror but then with greater fullness and purity. You have been made a son of God, co-heir with Christ. Where did you get all this, and from whom?
Let me turn to what is of less importance: the visible world around us. What benefactor has enabled you to look out upon the beauty of the sky, the sun in its course, the circle of the moon, the countless number of stars, with the harmony and order that are theirs, like the music of a harp? Who has blessed you with rain, with the art of husbandry, with different kinds of food, with the arts, with houses, with laws, with states, with a life of humanity and culture, with friendship and the easy familiarity of kinship?
Who has given you dominion over animals, those that are tame and those that provide you with food? Who has made you lord and master of everything on earth? In short, who has endowed you with all that makes man superior to all other living creatures?
Is it not God who asks you now in your turn to show yourself generous above all other creatures and for the sake of all other creatures? Because we have received from him so many wonderful gifts, will we not be ashamed to refuse him this one thing only, our generosity? Though he is God and Lord he is not afraid to be known as our Father. Shall we for our part repudiate those who are our kith and kin?
Brethren and friends, let us never allow ourselves to misuse what has been given us by God’s gift. If we do, we shall hear Saint Peter say: Be ashamed of yourselves for holding on to what belongs to someone else. Resolve to imitate God’s justice, and no one will be poor. Let us not labor to heap up and hoard riches while others remain in need. If we do, the prophet Amos will speak out against us with sharp and threatening words: Come now, you that say: When will the new moon be over, so that we may start selling? When will the sabbath be over, so that we may start opening our treasures?
Let us put into practice the supreme and primary law of God. He sends down rain on just and sinful alike, and causes the sun to rise on all without distinction. To all earth’s creatures he has given the broad earth, the springs, the rivers and the forests. He has given the air to the birds, and the waters to those who live in the water. He has given abundantly to all the basic needs of life, not as a private possession, not restricted by law, not divided by boundaries, but as common to all, amply and in rich measure. His gifts are not deficient in any way, because he wanted to give equality of blessing to equality of worth, and to show the abundance of his generosity.
Gregory of Nazianzen was patriarch archbishop of Constantinople (now Istanbul) at the time of the First Council of Constantinople which in 381 revised the Nicene Creed which we use in Sunday in the liturgy. He is one of the greatest of the Early Church Fathers.
To download and print Imitate God's Generosity - Click here!
For more Catholic resources to feed your faith, visit the Crossroads Initiative Homepage.
For more resources, devotions, and readings for the 40 days of Lent, visit the Crossroads Lenten library.
To sign up for our free weekly e-mail with Dr. D'Ambrosio's commentary on the Sunday readings, liturgical feasts, updates on where Dr. D will be speaking, a chance to WIN a FREE CD and MORE, CLICK HERE!
The Early Church Fathers
A society characterized by the loss of respect for life, violence, exotic religious cults, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, and even pedophilia. Sound familiar?
The Early Church Fathers succeeded in bringing a Pagan society to Christ. If we pay attention to what they taught, we will succeed in doing the same for our own de-Christianized society!
Album 1: The Apostolic Fathers and Irenaeus
Album 2: The Apologists, Ambrose, and Augustine
Early Church Father 2 DVD Set—$49.95
Early Church Fathers 2 CD Set—$18.00
EWTN - The Virtues: Seven Habits of Champions
Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio offers a spirited 8-part mediation in this new EWTN Home Video on the four moral virtues - Fortitude, Prudence, Justice, and Temperance - as well as the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.
Seven Habits of Champions lays out how God's inspiration for Christian living, contained in the Scriptures and made known through the Catechism and Church documents, is accessible to everyone and demonstrated for us through the lives of the saints. We are all called to holiness. And though the practice of these seven "habits," heroic virtue can be attained!
Each DVD tape contains 4 episodes aired on EWTN!
Set of Two DVD with 8 shows - $49.95
Introduction to the Virtues
The Cardinal Virtue of Prudence
The Cardinal Virtue of Justice
The Cardinal Virtue of Temperance
The Cardinal Virtue of Fortitude
The Theological Virtue of Faith
The Theological Virtue of Hope
The Theological Virtue of Charity
SUGAR FREE - Winrgy®
Winrgy is an invigorating, citrus-flavored energy and mental performance drink loaded with vitamins, minerals and amino acids that will help you stay energized and focused — so you can work, play and perform at your best.
This Winrgy includes Food for Thought right in the mix!