For long centuries God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself. He gave it hands whose thumb could be applied to each of the fingers, and jaws and teeth and throat capable of articulation, and a brain sufficiently complex to execute all the material motions whereby rational thought is incarnated. The creature may have existed for ages in this state before it became man: it may even have been clever enough to make things which a modern archaeologist would accept as proof of its humanity. But it was only an animal because all its physical and psychical processes were directed to purely material and natural ends. Then, in the fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say ‘I’ and ‘me’, which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgements of truth, beauty, and goodness, and which was so far above time that it could perceive time flowing past. This new consciousness ruled and illuminated the whole organism, flooding every part of it with light, and was not, like ours, limited to a selection of the movements going on in one part of the organism, namely the brain. Man was then all consciousness. The modern Yogi claims—whether falsely or truly—to have under control those functions which to us are almost part of the external world, such as digestion and circulation. This power the first man had in eminence. His organic processes obeyed the law of his own will, not the law of nature. His organs sent up appetites to the judgement seat of will not because they had to, but because he chose. Sleep meant to him not the stupor which we undergo, but willed and conscious repose—he remained awake to enjoy the pleasure and duty of sleep. Since the processes of decay and repair in his tissues were similarly conscious and obedient, it may not be fanciful to suppose that the length of his life was largely at his own discretion. Wholly commanding himself, he commanded all lower lives with which he came into contact. Even now we meet rare individuals who have a mysterious power of taming beasts. This power the Paradisal man enjoyed in eminence. The old picture of the brutes sporting before Adam and fawning upon him may not be wholly symbolical. Even now more animals than you might expect are ready to adore man if they are given a reasonable opportunity: for man was made to be the priest and even, in one sense, the Christ, of the animals—the mediator through whom they apprehend so much of the Divine splendour as their irrational nature allows. And God was to such a man no slippery, inclined plane. The new consciousness had been made to repose on its Creator, and repose it did. However rich and varied man’s experience of his fellows (or fellow) in charity and friendship and sexual love, or of the beasts, or of the surrounding world then first recognised as beautiful and awful, God came first in his love and in his thought, and that without painful effort. In perfect cyclic movement, being, power and joy descended from God to man in the form of gift and returned from man to God in the form of obedient love and ecstatic adoration: and in this sense, though not in all, man was then truly the son of God, the prototype of Christ, perfectly enacting in joy and ease of all the faculties and all the senses that filial self-surrender which Our Lord enacted in the agonies of the crucifixion.
Judged by his artefacts, or perhaps even by his language, this blessed creature was, no doubt, a savage. All that experience and practice can teach he had still to learn: if he chipped flints, he doubtless chipped them clumsily enough. He may have been utterly incapable of expressing in conceptual form his Paradisal experience. All that is quite irrelevant. From our own childhood we remember that before our elders thought us capable of ‘understanding’ anything, we already had spiritual experience as pure and as momentous as any we have undergone since, though not, of course, as rich in factual context. From Christianity itself we learn that there is a level—in the long run the only level of importance—on which the learned and the adult have no advantage at all over the simple and the child. I do not doubt that if the Paradisal man could now appear among us, we should regard him as an utter savage, a creature to be exploited or, at best, patronised. Only one or two, and those the holiest among us, would glance a second time at the naked, shaggy-bearded, slow-spoken creature: but they, after a few minutes, would fall at his feet.
We do not know how many of these creatures God made, nor how long they continued in the Paradisal state. But sooner or later they fell. Someone or something whispered that they could become as gods—that they could cease directing their lives to their Creator and taking all their delights as uncovenanted mercies, as ‘accidents’ (in the logical sense) which arose in the course of a life directed not to those delights but to the adoration of God. As a young man wants a regular allowance from his father which he can count on as his own, within which he makes his own plans (and rightly, for his father is after all a fellow creature), so they desired to be on their own, to take care for their own future, to plan for pleasure and for security, to have a meum from which, no doubt, they would pay some reasonable tribute to God in the way of time, attention, and love, but which, nevertheless, was theirs not His. They wanted, as we say, to ‘call their souls their own’. But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own. They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, ‘This is our business, not yours.’ But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives. We have no idea in what particular act, or series of acts, the self-contradictory, impossible wish found expression. For all I can see, it might have concerned the literal eating of a fruit, but the question is of no consequence.
— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis)
We make an idol of truth itself; for truth apart from charity is not God, but His image and idol, which we must neither love nor worship; and still less must we love or worship its opposite, namely, falsehood.
—Blaise Pascal, The Fundamentals of the Christian Religion
[T]hey take occasion to revile the Christian religion, because they misunderstand it. They imagine that it consists simply in the worship of a God considered as great, powerful, and eternal; which is strictly deism, almost as far removed from the Christian religion as atheism, which is its exact opposite. And thence they conclude that this religion is not true, because they do not see that all things concur to the establishment of this point, that God does not manifest Himself to men with all the evidences which He could show.
But let them conclude what they will against deism, they will conclude nothing against Christian religion, which properly consists in the mystery of the Redeemer, who, uniting in Himself the two natures, human and divine, has redeemed men from the corruption of sin in order to reconcile them in His divine person of God.
The Christian religion then teaches men to hear two truths; that there is a God whom men can know, and that there is a corruption in their nature which renders them unworthy of Him. It is equally important to men to know both these points; and it is equally dangerous for man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness, and to to know his own wretchedness without knowing the Redeemer who can free him from it. The knowledge of one of these points gives either to the pride of philosophers, who have known God, and not their own wretchedness, or to the despair of atheists, who know their own wretchedness, but not the Redeemer.
—Blaise Pascal, The Fundamentals of the Christian Religion
There are very few people I’ve encountered that know the Twelve Days of Christmas actually begins on Christmas Day. Here’s a summary of the Twelve Days of Christmas from the Wikipedia article (linked below):
The first day of Christmas is Christmas Day and each day is a feast in memory of a Saint or event associated with the Christmas season. The days are as follows:
- Day 1, 25 December: Christmas Day.
- Day 2, 26 December: St. Stephen’s Day. This day is mentioned in the carol “Good King Wenceslas”. Boxing Day, a non-religious banking holiday occurs on the first day following Christmas. In Ireland this day is also known as Wren Day.
- Day 3, 27 December: Feast of saint John the Evangelist and Apostle.
- Day 4, 28 December: The Feast of the Holy Innocents, the young male children ordered murdered in Bethlehem by King Herod, according to the Gospel of Matthew. The traditional Christmas song “The Coventry Carol” describes this event.
- Day 5, 29 December: The feast day of Saint Thomas Becket.
- Day 6, 30 December: The feast of the Holy Family.
- Day 7, 31 December: The feast of Saint Sylvester. In Scotland this day is known as Hogmanay. In Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Slovenia, New Years Eve is still referred to as Silvester.
- Day 8, 1 January: The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Before the Second Vatican Council, it was also observed as the Feast of the Holy Circumcision of Jesus.
- Day 9, 2 January: Octave day of St. Stephen or the feast day of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen. In England, the Lichfield Martyrs are also celebrated on this day.
- Day 10, 3 January: Feast of Saint Genevieve or the most holy name of Jesus.
- Day 11, 4 January: The octave day of the feast of the Holy Innocents or the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint. In medieval times this was The feast of Saint Simon Stylites.
- Day 12, 5 January: In the UK this was the Feast of St. Edward the Confessor, King of England. The rest of Europe feasted St. Julian the Hospitaller on this day. The modern church recognizes this as the feast day of St. John Neumann. The evening of the 5 January is also Twelfth Night
Twelve Days of Christmas – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Source: The Sermons of John Wesley – On The Education Of Children (Sermon 95)
Of John Wesley’s sermons I’ve read, this turned out to be one of the longest. Recently, when Corbin started confirmation, I began to wonder, “What would Wesley say about the education of children?” and, “Is there something I’m supposed to be doing that I am not?” As I have usually found, there’s a sermon on that—below are my clippings from that sermon:
- “…good men have not always a good understanding; and, without this, it is hardly to be expected that they will know how to train up their children.
- “…those who are in other respects good men have often too much easiness of temper; so that they go no farther in restraining their children from evil.
- “…as the only end of a physician is, to restore nature to its own state, so the only end of education is, to restore our rational nature to its proper state. Education, therefore, is to be considered as reason borrowed as second-hand, which is, as far as it can, to supply the loss of original perfection.
- “Christianity has, as it were, new created the moral and religious world, and set everything that is reasonable, wise, holy, and desirable in its true point of light; so one would expect the education of children should be as much mended by Christianity, as the doctrines of religion are.
- “…[Christianity] has introduced a new state of things, and so fully informed us of the nature of man, and the end of his creation; as it has fixed all our goods and evils, taught us the means of purifying our souls [and] of pleasing God[.]
- “…is it not reasonable to suppose that a Christian education should have no other end but to teach them how to think, and judge, and act according to the strictest rules of Christianity?
- “…those that educate us should imitate our guardian angels; suggest nothing to our minds but what is wise and holy; help us to discover every false judgement of our minds, and to subdue every wrong passion in our hearts.
- “…it is as reasonable to expect and require all this benefit from a Christian education, as to require that
physic[medicine] should strengthen all that is right in our nature, and remove all our diseases. Let it be carefully remembered all this time, that God, not man, is the physician of souls; that it is He, and none else, who giveth medicine to heal our natural sickness[.]
- “Let it be carefully remembered all this time, that God, not man, is the physician of souls; that it is He, and none else, who giveth medicine to heal our natural sickness[.]
- “[It] is generally his pleasure to work by his creatures; to help man by man. He honours men to be, in a sense, “workers together with him.” By this means the reward is ours, while the glory redounds to him.
- “…what is that way wherein we should train up a child, let us consider, What are the diseases of his nature? What those spiritual diseases which every one that is born of a woman brings with him into the world? Is not the first of them Atheism?
- “Indeed it may be said that every man is by nature, as it were, his own god. He worships himself. He is, in his own conception, absolute Lord of himself.
- “His own will is his only law; he does this or that because it is his good pleasure.
- “Another evil disease which every human soul brings into the world with him, is pride; a continual proneness to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. Every man can discern more or less of this disease in everyone — but himself.
- “The next disease natural to every human soul, born with every man, is love of the world. Every man is, by nature, a lover of the creature, instead of the Creator; a ‘lover of pleasure,’ in every kind, ‘more than a lover of God.’
- “Whether this be a natural disease or not, it is certain anger is. The ancient philosopher defines it, ‘a sense of injury received, with a desire of revenge.’
- “A deviation from truth is equally natural to all the children of men.
- “All natural men will, upon a close temptation, vary from, or disguise, the truth. If they do not offend against veracity, if they do not say what is false, yet they frequently offend against simplicity.
- “Everyone is likewise prone, by nature, to speak or act contrary to justice.
- “Neither is any man, by nature, merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful…
- “Now, if [Atheism, pride, love of the world, anger, deviation from the truth, acting unjust, and being unmerciful] are the general diseases of human nature, is it not the grand end of education to cure them? And is it not the part of all those to whom God has entrusted the education of children, to take all possible care, first, not to increase, not to feed, any of these diseases; and next, to use every possible means of healing them?
- “What can parents do, and mothers more especially, to whose care our children are necessarily committed in their tender years, with regard to the Atheism that is natural to all the children of men?
- “From the first dawn of reason continually inculcate, God is in this and every place. God made you, and me, and the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and everything.
- “[And that] God orders all things: he makes the sun shine, and the wind blow, and the trees bear fruit. Nothing comes by chance; that is a silly word; there is no such thing as chance.
- “Without [God] we can neither think anything right, or do anything right. Thus it is, we are to inculcate upon [our children], that God is all in all.