October 18, 2012


Every year on the feast of St. Luke, Gregory the Great pierces me a little bit in the Office of Readings: As he preaches on the Lord's advice that we pray for workers to be sent into his harvest, he delivers this biting comment on the priesthood:

Ecce mundus sacerdotibus plenus est, sed tamen in messe Dei rarus valde inventur operator, quia officium quidem sacerdotale suscepimus, sed opus officii non implemus.

"Behold, the world is full of priests, but a real worker in God's harvest is rarely found, for we have taken up the priestly office, but the works of the office we do not fulfill."

St. Francis:

"And I worked with my hands, and I still desire to work; and I earnestly desire all brothers to give themselves to honest work. Let those who do not know how to work learn, not from desire to receive wages, but for example and to avoid idleness." (Testament, trans. FA:ED. By the way, this quote is affixed to the top of the pages of the General Curia's intranet site. That gives some idea of the culture of the place.)

Abba Abraham:

A brother questioned Abba Abraham, saying, 'If I find myself eating often, what will come of it?' The old man replied in this way, 'What are you saying, brother? Do you eat so much? Or perhaps you think that you have come to the threshing floor to thresh grain?' (The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, trans. Benedicta Ward, SLG)

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