St Basil On Psalm 44

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Unto the End for Those Who Shall be Changed., for the Sons of Core for Understanding (ON PSALM 44)

THIS PSALM SEEMS TO BE one that is adapted to perfecting human nature and that provides assistance for attaining the prescribed end for those who have elected to live in virtue. Indeed, in order that those advancing may attain perfection, there is need of the teaching which is provided by this psalm with the inscription, ‘Unto the end, for those that shall be changed/ It really says in an obscure manner, For men.’ For, we especially of all rational beings are subject to variations and changes day by day and almost hour by hour. Neither in body nor in mind are we the same, but our body is in perpetual flux and disintegration; it is in motion and transition, either increasing from smaller to larger, or reducing from perfection to deficiency. The child now frequenting the school and fit to acquire the arts and sciences is not the same as the newly born infant; and again, the adolescent is admittedly different from the child, since he is already able to join with the young men. And beyond the adolescent is another man, one with firmness and great stature of body and perfection of reasoning. Having come to the peak of his vigour and attained the stability of manhood, he again begins little by little to reduce to a smaller man as the condition of his body imperceptibly declines and his bodily energies are lessened, until, bent down by age, he waits for the last withdrawal of strength. Accordingly, we are the ones who are changing and the psalm wisely alludes to us men through these words.

Angels do not admit any change. No one among them is a child, nor a young man, nor an old man, but in whatever state they were created in the beginning, in that state they remain, their substance being preserved pure and inviolate for them. But, we change in our body, as has been shown, and in our soul and in the inner man, always shifting our thoughts with the circumstances. In fact, we are one sort of person when we are cheerful and when all things in our life are moving forward with the current; but, we are another sort in precarious times, when we stumble against something that is not according to our wishes. We are changed through anger, assuming a certain savage state. We are also changed through our concupiscences, becoming like beasts through a life of pleasure. ‘They are become as amorous horses,’ madly in love with their neighbours’ wives. The deceitful man is compared to a fox, as Herod was; the shameless man is called a dog, like Nabel the Carmelian. Do you see the variety and diversity of our change? Then, admire him who has fittingly adapted this title to us.

(2) For this very reason, a certain one of the interpreters seems to me to have handed over beautifully and accurately the same thought through another title, saying, For the lilies,’ in place of, For them that shall be changed.’ He thought that it was appropriate to compare the transitoriness of human nature with the early death of flowers. But, since this word has been inflected in the future tense, (it is said: For them that shall be changed,’ as if at some time later this change will be shown to us) , let us consider whether there is suggested to us the doctrine of the resurrection, in which a change will be granted to us, but a change for something better and something spiritual. ‘What is sown in corruption,’ he says, ‘rises in incorruption.’ Do you see the change? ‘What is sown in weakness rises in power; what is sown a natural body rises a spiritual body,’ when every corporeal creature will change together with us. Also, ‘The heavens shall grow old like a garment and as a vesture’ God ‘shall change them, and they shall be changed.’ Then, according to Isaiah, ‘The sun will be sevenfold, and the moon like the present size of the sun,’

Since the sayings of God have not been written for all, but for those who have ears according to the inner man, he wrote the inscription, For them that shall be changed,’ as I think, for those who are careful of themselves and are always advancing through their exercises of piety toward something better. This is surely the best change which the right hand of the most High will bestow; of which the blessed David also had an understanding when, having tasted the blessings of virtue, he strained forward to what was before. For, what does he say? ‘And I said, Now I have begun: this is the change of the right hand of the most High.’ Therefore, one who is advancing in virtue is never unchanged. ‘When I was a child,’ it is said, 1 spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away the things of a child.’

Again, when he had become a man, he did not rest from his work, but ‘forgetting what was behind, he strained forward to what was before, he pressed on towards the goal to the prize of the heavenly calling.’ There is a change, therefore, of the inner man who is renewed day by day.

Since he, the prophet, is about to announce to us what concerns the Beloved, who for our sake took upon Himself the dispensation of the Incarnation, for those who are worthy of this grace he says that he has given this canticle for the sons of Core. For it is a canticle and not a psalm; because it is sung with harmonious modulation by the unaccompanied voice and with no instrument sounding in accord with it. And it is a canticle for the Beloved. Shall I describe to you whom the Scripture says the Beloved is? Or do you know, even before our words, recalling the voice in the Gospel? ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him.’ The Beloved is to the Father as the Only-begotten One; and to every creature as a kind Father and a good Ruler. The same thing is by nature both beloved and good. Wherefore, some have rightly given the definition, saying that ‘good’ is what all things desire.

It is not the privilege of any chance person to go forward to the perfection of love and to learn to know Him who is truly beloved, but of him who has already ‘put off the old man, which is being corrupted through its deceptive lusts, and has put on the new man,’ which is being renewed that it may be recognised as an image of the Creator. Moreover, he who loves money and is aroused by the corruptible beauty of the body and esteems exceedingly this little glory here, since he has expended the power of loving on what is not proper, he is quite blind in regard to the contemplation of Him who is truly beloved. Therefore, it is said: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.’ The expression, ‘With thy whole,’ admits of no division into parts. As much love as you shall have squandered on lower objects, that much will necessarily be lacking to you from the whole. Because of this, of all people few have been called friends of God, as Moses has been described as a friend; likewise, John: ‘But the friend’ he says, ‘of the bridegroom, who stands, rejoices exceedingly,’ that is to say, he who has a steadfast and immovable love for Christ, he is worthy of His friendship. Therefore, the Lord said to His disciples who were already perfect: ‘No longer do I call you servants/ but friends; ‘because the servant does not know what his master does.’ Accordingly, it is the privilege of a perfect man truly to recognise the Beloved. In reality, only holy men are the friends of God and friends to each other, but no one of the wicked or stupid is a friend. The beauty of friendship does not fall into a depraved state, since nothing shameful or incongruous can be capable of the harmonious union of friendship. Evil is contrary not to the good only, but also to itself. But, now let us proceed to an examination of the words.

(3) ‘My heart hath uttered a good word.’ Some have already thought that these words were spoken from the Person of the Father concerning the Word who was with Him from the beginning, whom He brought forth, they say, as it were, from His Heart and His very Vitals; and from a good Heart there came forth a good Word. But, it seems to me that these words refer to the person of the prophet, since what follows the saying no longer makes the explanation concerning the Father equally smooth for us. The Father would not say concerning His own tongue: ‘My tongue is the pen of a scrivener that writeth swiftly. Thou art beautiful above the sons of men.’ Not, indeed, by a comparison with men does He possess a superiority of beauty. And continuing, he says: Therefore God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness.’ He did not say: ‘I, God, anointed you/ but, ‘He anointed you/ so that it is shown from this that the one speaking is another person. What else is this, therefore, than the prophet spread- ing the action of the Holy Spirit which has come upon him? ‘My heart hath uttered a good word,’ he says. Now, since belching is hidden breath which is blown upwards when the bubbles due to the effervescence of the food burst, he who is fed with the living bread which came down from heaven and gives life to the world’ and who is filled ‘by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God,’ according to the customary allegorical interpretation of the Scripture, this soul, I say, nourished with the divine learning, sends forth an utterance proper to its food. Therefore, since the food was rational and good, the prophet uttered a good word. For ‘the good man from the good treasure’ of his heart brings forth the good. Let us ourselves, therefore, seek after the nourishment from the Word for the filling of our souls (‘The just,’ it is said, ‘eateth and filleth his soul’), in order that, in correspondence with what we are fed, we may send up, not some vulgar word, but a good one. The wicked man, nourished by unsound doctrines, utters in his heart a wicked word. Do you not see what sort of words the mouths of heretics pour forth? How harsh and foul, indicating some serious disease in the innermost part of the wretched ones? ‘The evil man from the evil treasure* of his heart brings forth evil. ‘Do not, therefore, having itching ears, heap up for yourself teachers’ 28 who are able to produce disease in your vitals and to procure for you the utterance of evil words for which you are going to be judged on the day of judgment. Tor by thy words thou wilt be justified/ he said, ‘and by thy words thou wilt be condemned.’

‘I speak my works to the king.’ These words also lead us especially to understand the person of the prophet. ‘I speak my works to the king,’ that is, I will confess to the judge and get ahead of the accuser by reporting my own deeds. Certainly, we have received the command which says: ‘Tell first your transgressions that you may be justified.’

‘My tongue is the pen of a scrivener that writeth swiftly.’ As the pen is an instrument for writing when the hand of an experienced person moves it to record what is being written, so also the tongue of the just man, when the Holy Spirit moves it, writes the words of eternal life in the hearts of the faithful, dipped ‘not in ink, but in the Spirit of the living God.’ The scrivener, therefore, is the Holy Spirit, because He is wise ‘and an apt teacher of all; and swiftly writing, because the movement of His mind is swift. The Spirit writes thoughts in us, ‘Not on tablets of stone but on fleshy tablets of the heart.’ In proportion to the size of the heart, the Spirit writes in hearts more or less, either things evident to all or things more obscure, according to its previous preparation of purity. Because of the speed with which the writings have been finished all the world now is filled with the Gospel.

It seemed best to us to interpret the next expression as beginning with itself and not to join it with the preceding, but to associate it with what follows. For the words, ‘Thou art ripe in beauty’ we think are spoken to the Lord by way of apostrophe.

(4) Thou art ripe in beauty, above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in thy lips.’ Both Aquila and Symmachus introduce us to this thought; the first saying, ‘Thou art adorned with beauty above the sons of men,’ and Symmachus, Thou art beautiful with a beauty above the sons of men.’ Now, he [David] calls the Lord ripe in beauty when he fixes his gaze on His divinity. He does not celebrate the beauty of the flesh. ‘And we have seen him, and he had no sightliness, nor beauty, but his appearance was without honour and lacking above the sons of men.’ It is evident, then, that the prophet, looking upon His brilliancy and being filled with the splendour there, his soul smitten with this beauty, was moved to a divine love of the spiritual beauty, and when this appeared in the human soul all things hitherto loved seemed shameful and abominable. Therefore, even Paul, when he saw His ripe beauty ‘counted all things as dung that he might gain Christ.’ Those outside the word of truth, despising the simplicity of expression in the Scriptures, call the preaching of the Gospel folly; but we, who glory in the cross of Christ, ‘to whom the gifts bestowed on us by God were manifested through the Spirit, not in words taught by human wisdom,’ know that the grace poured out by God in the teachings concerning Christ is rich. Therefore, in a short time the teaching passed through almost the whole world, since grace, rich and plentiful, was poured out upon the preachers of the Gospel, whom Scripture called even the lips of Christ. Moreover, the message of the Gospel in its insignificant little words possesses great guidance and attraction toward salvation. And every soul is overcome by the unalterable doctrines, being strengthened by grace to an unshaken faith in Christ. Whence the Apostle says: ‘Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about obedience to faith.’ And again: ‘I have laboured more than any of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.’

(5) ‘Grace is poured abroad in thy lips; therefore hath God blessed thee forever.’ In the Gospel it has been written: ‘They marvelled at the words of grace that came from his mouth.’ The psalm, wishing to bring forward vividly the great amount of grace in the words spoken by our Lord, says: ‘Grace is poured abroad in thy lips,’ because of the abundance of grace in the words. ‘God hath blessed thee forever,’ it says. It is evident that these words refer to His human nature, as it advances ‘in wisdom and age and grace.’ According to this we clearly perceive that grace has been given to Him as the prize for His brave deeds. Similar to this is the saying: ‘Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.’ The saying of Paul to the Philippians is also much like to this: ‘He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross. Therefore God also has exalted him.’ So that it is clear that these words were spoken concerning the Saviour as a man. Or, there is this explanation. Since the Church is the body of the Lord, and He Himself is the head of the Church, just as we have explained that those ministering to the heavenly Word are the lips of Christ (even as Paul, or anyone else much like to him in virtue, had Christ speaking in himself) , so also we, as many of us as are believers, are the other members of the body of Christ. Now, if anyone refers to the Lord the praise given to the Church, he will not sin. Therefore, the saying: ‘God hath blessed thee’; that is to say, He has filled thy members and thy body with blessings from Himself for eternity, that is to say, for time without end.

‘Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou most mighty. With thy ripeness and thy beauty.’ We believe that this refers figuratively to the living Word of God, so that He is joined with the flesh, who is ‘efficient and keener than any two-edged sword, and extending even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints also and of marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart.’ For, the thigh is a symbol of efficiency in generation. ‘For these,’ he says, ‘are the souls that came out of Jacob’s thigh.’ As, then, our Lord Jesus Christ is a life and a way, and bread, and a grapevine, and a true light, and is also called numberless other names, so, too, He is a sword that cuts through the sensual part of the soul and mortifies the motions of concupiscence. Then, since God the Word was about to unite Himself to the weakness of flesh, there is added beautifully the expression, ‘thou most mighty,’ because the fact that God was able to exist in the nature of man bears proof of the greatest power. In fact, the construction of heaven and earth, and the generation of sea and air and the greatest elements, and whatever is known above the earth and whatever beneath the earth, do not commend the power of the Word of God as much as His dispensation concerning the Incarnation and His condescension to the lowliness and weakness of humanity.

‘With thy ripeness and thy beauty,’ Ripeness differs from beauty, because ripeness is said to be the attainment at a suitable time to its own flowering, as the grain is ripe which is already mature for the harvest; and the fruit of the vine is ripe which receives the proper maturing for its own perfection through the season of the year and is fit for enjoyment. On the other hand, beauty is the harmony in the composition of the members, and it possesses a grace that blooms in it. Therefore, ‘Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou most mighty. ‘With thy ripeness and thy beauty,’ ‘With thy ripeness,’ that is to say, in the fullness of time; ‘and thy beauty,’ the divinity which can be known through contemplation and reason. For, that is truly beautiful which exceeds all human apprehension and power and can be contemplated by the mind alone. The disciples to whom He privately explained the parables knew His beauty. Peter and the Sons of Thunder saw His beauty on the mountain, surpassing in splendour the brilliance of the sun, and they were considered worthy to perceive with their eyes the beginning of His glorious coming.

‘Set out, proceed prosperously, and reign.’ That is to say, having begun your care of men through the flesh, make that care earnest and lasting and never weakening. This will provide a way and a course for the preaching, and will subject all to your power. Let it not astonish us that the expression, ‘proceed prosperously,’ is spoken in the imperative mood, because of the custom of Scripture which always arranges its expressions of desire in this way. For example, ‘Thy will be done,’ instead of, ‘May Thy will be done.’ And ‘Thy kingdom come,’ instead of ‘May Thy kingdom come,’

(6) ‘Because of truth and meekness and justice: and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully.’ In the same way again, this saying is fashioned figuratively, just as if the Lord were receiving as a reward these favours, namely, to proceed prosperously and to reign, because of His truth and meekness and justice. We must understand it in this way: since things human have been distorted by deceit, rule among men who are governed by sin in order that You may sow the truth again, for You are the Truth. And, ‘because of meekness/ in order that by Your example all may be led forth to clemency and goodness. Wherefore, the Lord also said: ‘Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart/ 60 And He showed this meekness in His works themselves; ‘when he was reviled, he was silent,’ when He was scourged, He endured. ‘And thy  right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully.’ Not a pillar of cloud, nor the illumination of fire, but Thy right hand itself.

‘Thy arrows are sharp, O thou most mighty.’ The sharp arrows of the Mighty One are the well-aimed words which touch the hearts of the hearers, striking and wounding their keenly perceptive souls. ‘The words of the wise/ it is said, ‘are as goads.’ The psalmist, therefore, praying to be delivered at some time from the deceitful men of his time, seeks after the sharp arrows of the Mighty One for the cure of the deceitful tongue. He wishes for ‘coals that lay waste’ to be at hand, so that punishment, which he called ‘coals that lay waste,’ may be ready for those upon whom through blindness of heart the rational arrows do not fasten. For those who have made themselves destitute of God the preparation of coals that lay waste is necessary. Now, therefore, ‘Thy arrows are sharp.’ The souls which have received the faith are wounded by these arrows, and those inflamed with the highest love of God say with the spouse, I languish with love.’ Indescribable and inexpressible are the beauty of the Word and the ripeness of the wisdom and of the comeliness of God in His own image. Blessed, therefore, are those who are fond of contemplating true beauty. As if bound to Him through love, and loving the celestial and blessed love, they forget relatives and friends; they forget home and all their abundance; and forgetful even of the bodily necessity to eat and drink, they have clung only to the divine and pure love. You will understand the sharp arrows also as those sent out to sow the Gospel in the whole world, who, because they had spurred themselves on, shone with works of justice, and they crept subtly into the souls of those who were being instructed; for, these arrows, sent out everywhere, were preparing the people to fall under Christ. However, the phrase seems to me to be restored more consistently by a transposition of words, so that the meaning is this: ‘Set out, proceed prosperously, and reign, and Thy right hand shall conduct Thee wonderfully, and under Thee people shall fall; because Thy arrows are sharp in the hearts of the King’s enemies.’ No one who is fighting against God and is boastful and arrogant falls under God, but they who accept subjection through faith. The arrows, falling in the hearts of those who were at some time enemies of the King, draw them to a love for the truth, draw them to the Lord, so that they who were enemies to God are reconciled to Him through its teachings.

(7) ‘Thy Throne, O God, is forever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a sceptre of uprightness. Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.’ After he has directed his attention to mankind and discoursed much about it, he now elevates his sermon to the heights of the glory of the Only-begotten. ‘Thy Throne,’ he says, ‘O God, is forever and ever,’ that is to say, Thy Kingdom is beyond the ages and older than all thought. And beautifully after the subjection of the people does he celebrate the magnificence of the kingdom of God. ‘The sceptre of thy kingdom is a sceptre of uprightness,’ For this reason also he gave Him His own name, clearly proclaiming Him God: ‘Thy Throne, O God,’ The sceptre of God is punitive, and while correcting, it brings forth upright and not perverse judgments. Therefore, the sceptre of uprightness is called the sceptre of His Kingdom. ‘And if his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments, I will visit their iniquities with a rod.’ Do you see the just judgment of God? He does not make use of it in the case of chance persons, but of sinners. It is also called a rod of consolation: ‘Thy rod,’ he says, ‘and thy staff, they have comforted me,’ It is a rod of affliction, too: ‘Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron, and shalt break them In pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ Things of earth and clay are broken in kindness toward those who are governed, as it is handed down, ‘for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved.’

(8) ‘Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.’ Since it was necessary to give form to the typical anointing, and the typical high priests and kings, the flesh of the Lord was anointed with the true anointing, by the coming of the Holy Spirit into it, which was called ‘the oil of gladness.’ And He was anointed above His fellows; that is to say, all men who are members of Christ. Therefore, a certain partial sharing of the Spirit was given to them, but the Holy Spirit descending upon the Son of God, as John says, ‘abode upon him,’ Rightly is the Spirit called the ‘oil of gladness/ inasmuch as one of the fruits produced by the Holy Spirit is joy. Since the account concerning the Saviour is mixed because of the nature of the divinity and the dispensation of the Incarnation, looking again at the humanity of God he says: ‘Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity,’ meaning ‘the rest of men frequently achieve by labor and practice and diligence a disposition toward virtue and a disinclination to vice; but You have a certain natural attraction to the good and an aversion for iniquity.’ Yet, it is not hard for us, if we wish it, to take up a love for justice and a hatred for iniquity. God has advantageously given all power to the rational soul, as that of loving, so also that of hating, in order that, guided by reason, we may love virtue but hate vice. It is possible at times to use hatred even praiseworthily. ‘Have I not hated them, O Lord, that hated thee: and pined away because of thy enemies? I have hated them with a perfect hatred.’

(9) ‘Myrrh and aloes and cassia perfume thy garments, from the ivory houses: out of which the daughters of Kings have delighted thee in thy glory.’ The statement of the prophet, descending gradually and consistently and mentioning first all those things which pertain to the dispensation of the Incarnation, by a strong breath of the Spirit which reveals to him hidden things, came to the passion. ‘Myrrh/ he says, ‘and aloes and cassia perfume thy garments.’ Now, the fact that myrrh is a symbol of burial even the evangelist John taught us when he said that He was prepared for burial by Joseph of Arimathea with myrrh and aloes. Aloes itself is also a very refined form of myrrh. When the aromatic herb is squeezed, whatever part of it is liquid is separated as aloes, but the denser part which is left is called myrrh. Surely, then, the sweet odour of Christ gives forth the fragrance of myrrh because of His passion and of aloes because He did not remain motionless and inactive for three days and three nights but descended to the lower world to distribute the graces of the Resurrection, in order that He might fulfil all things which have reference to Him. And it breathes forth the fragrance of cassia because cassia is a certain very delicate and fragrant bark which is tightly stretched around a woody stalk. Perhaps, Scripture profoundly and wisely intimated to us through the name of cassia the suffering of the cross undertaken in kindness to every creature. Therefore, you have myrrh because of burial; aloes, because of the passage down to the lower world (since every drop is borne downward); and cassia, because of the dispensation of the flesh upon the wood. For this reason he says: ‘the daughters of kings have delighted thee in thy glory,’ But, who would be the daughters of kings except the generous and great and kingly souls? Those which, after they had learned to know Christ through His descent to a human state ‘delighted Him in His glory,’ in true faith and perfect charity, giving glory to His divinity. And these aromatic herbs, he says, are not sparingly present in the garments of Christ (that is to say, the parable of the sermons and the preparation of the doctrines), but are brought from all the buildings. He says that the largest of the dwellings are houses, and that these are constructed of ivory, because the prophet is teaching, I think, the wealth of the love of Christ for the world.

‘The queen stood on thy right hand, arrayed in gilded clothing, embroidered with varied colours.’ Now he is speaking about the Church, about which we have learned in the Canticle that it is the one perfect dove of Christ, which admits those who are known for their good works to the right side of Christ, separating them from the bad, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Therefore, the queen, that is, the soul which is joined with the Word, its Bridegroom, not subjected by sin but sharing the kingdom of Christ, stands on the right hand of the Saviour in gilded clothing, that is to say, adorning herself charmingly and reli- giously with spiritual doctrines, interwoven and varied. Since, however, the teachings are not simple, but varied and mani- fold, and embrace words, moral and natural and the so-called esoteric, therefore, the Scripture says that the clothing of the bride is varied.

(10) ‘Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thy ear: and forget thy people and thy father’s house. And the king shall greatly desire thy beauty, for he is thy Lord, and him they shall adore.’ He summons the Church to hear and observe the precepts and, addressing her as daughter, associates her with himself through this title, as if he had adopted her through love. ‘Hearken, O daughter, and see,’ He teaches that she has a mind trained to contemplation through the word, ‘see.’ Observe well, he says, the creation, and, aided by the order in it, thus ascend to the contemplation of the Creator. Then bending her lofty and proud neck, he says: Incline thy ear/ Do not run away to stories from the outside, but accept the humble voice in the evangelical account. Incline thy ear’ to this teaching in order that you may forget those depraved customs and the lessons of your fathers. Therefore, ‘forget thy people and thy father’s house,’ For, everyone ‘who commits sin is of the devil.’ Cast out, I pray you, he says, the teachings of the evil spirits, forget sacrifices, nocturnal dances, tales which inflame to fornication and to every form of licentiousness. For this reason have I called you my own daughter, that you may hate the parent who previously begot you for destruction. If through such forgetfulness you erase the blemishes of your depraved learning, assuming your own proper beauty, you will appear desirable to your Spouse and King. ‘Because he is thy Lord, and him they shall adore.’ He intimates the need of submission by the expression: ‘He is thy Lord. Him they shall adore,’ that is, every creature. Therefore, ‘at the name of Jesus Christ every knee shall bend of those in heaven, on earth and under the earth,’

‘And the daughter of Tyre with gifts, yea, all the rich among the people, shall entreat thy countenance.’ Idolatry seems to have been practiced excessively in the Chanaanite country. The metropolis of Chanaan is Tyre. Scripture, then, urging the Church on to obedience, says: ‘And the daughter of Tyre will come at some time with gifts. And the rich among the people will entreat thy countenance with gifts.’ He did not say: ‘They will entreat you with gifts,’ but, ‘thy countenance.’ For, the Church will not be adored, but Christ, the head of the Church, whom Scripture called the ‘countenance.’

(11) ‘All the glory of the king’s daughter is within, invested and adorned with golden borders. After her shall virgins be brought to the king.’ After she had been cleansed of the former doctrines of wickedness, and was heeding the instruction and forgetting her people and her father’s house, the Holy Spirit relates what pertains to her. And since He saw the cleanliness deeply hidden, He says: ‘All the glory of the king’s daughter,’ that is to say, of Christ’s bride, who has become henceforth through adoption daughter of the king, ‘is within.’ The assertion urges us to penetrate to the inmost mysteries of ecclesiastical glory, since the beauty of the bride is within. He who makes himself ready for the Father who sees in secret, and who prays and does all things, not to be seen by men, but to be known to God alone, this man has all his glory within, even as the king’s daughter. And the golden borders with which the whole is invested and adorned are within.

Seek nothing with exterior gold and bodily adornment; but consider the garment as one worthy to adorn him who is according to the image of his Creator, as the Apostle says: ‘Stripping off the old man, and putting on the new, one that is being renewed unto perfect knowledge “according to the image of his Creator.”‘ And he who has put on ‘the heart of mercy, kindness, humility, patience, and meekness,’ is clothed within and has adorned the inner man. Paul exhorts us to put on the Lord Jesus, not according to the exterior man, but in order that our remembrance of God may cover over our whole mind. But, I believe that the spiritual garment is woven when the attendant action is interwoven with the word of doctrine. In fact, just as a bodily garment is woven when the woof is interwoven with the warp, so when the word is antecedent, if actions in accordance with the word should be produced, there would be made a certain most magnificent garment for the soul which possesses a life of virtue attained by word and action. But, the borders hang down from the garment, these also spiritual; therefore, they too are said to be golden. Since, indeed, the word is greater than the deed, there is, as it were, a certain border which remains over from the woven robe according to the action. Certain souls, since they have not accepted seeds of false doctrines, follow the spouse of the Lord and because they are following His spouse they will be led to the King. Let those also who have vowed virginity to the Lord hear that virgins will be led to the King, but virgins who are close to the Church, who follow after her, and who do not wander away from the ecclesiastical discipline.

The virgins ‘shall be brought with gladness and rejoicing: they shall be brought into the temple of the king.’ Not those who through constraint assume virginity, nor those who accept the chaste life through grief or necessity, but those who in gladness and rejoicing take delight in so virtuous an act, these will be brought to the King, and they will be brought not into some insignificant place, but into the temple of the King. For, the sacred vessels, which human use has not defiled, will be brought into the holy of holies and they will have the right of entrance into the innermost shrines, where unhallowed feet do not walk about. And how great a matter it is to be brought into the temple of the King, the prophet shows when he prays for himself and says: ‘One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple.’

(12) ‘Instead of thy fathers, sons are born to thee: thou shalt make them princes over all the earth.’ Since she was ordered above to forget her people and her father’s house, in exchange for her obedience she now receives instead of fathers, sons who are conspicuous for such great qualities that they are established as ‘princes over all the earth.’ Who, then, are the sons of the Church? Surely, the sons of the Gospel, who rule all the earth. ‘Their sound hath gone forth,’ he says, ‘into all the earth,’ and ‘They shall sit on twelve thrones, and they shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel.’ And if anyone accepts the patriarchs as the fathers of the bride, even thus the explanation of the apostles does not fail. For, instead of them there were born to her through Christ sons, who do the works of Abraham and, therefore, are deemed equal in honour with them, because they have done the same things for which the fathers were considered worthy of great honours. In truth, the saints are the princes of all the earth because of their attraction for the good, since the nature itself of good bestows upon them the first place, as it bestowed upon Jacob the rights of Esau. For, it is said: ‘Be master of your brother.’ Accordingly, they who have been made equal in honour with their fathers and have received in addition the pre-eminence in all things through the exercise of virtue, are both sons of the bride of Christ and are established by their own mother as princes over all the earth. Consider, I pray you, how great is the power of the queen, that she appoints princes over all the earth.

‘I shall remember thy name throughout all generations. Therefore shall people praise thee forever: yea forever and ever.’ After all things else the Scripture, as if in the person of the Church, says: ‘I shall remember thy name throughout all generations/ And what is the remembrance of the Church? The praise of the people.