“Wisdom has built herself a house. God the Father’s Power, himself a person has fashioned as his dwelling place, the whole world in which he lives by his activity, and also man who created to resemble God’s own image and likeness, has a nature which is partly seen and partly hidden from our eyes.
And she has given him seven pillars. To man, who was made in the image of Christ, when the rest of creation was completed, Wisdom gave him the seven gifts of the Spirit to enable him to believe in Christ and to keep his commandments. By means of these gifts, the spiritual man grows and develops until, through firm faith, and the supernatural graces he receives, he finally reaches maturity...Knowledge stimulates virtue and virtue reflects knowledge.”
Procopius of Gaza wrote these words in a commentary on the Book of Proverbs- the selection for February 20, 2019, Divine Office of Readings. This fifth century Bishop’s words reach out across the millennia with their power and hope to a time when many of us are cowering from the ominous ‘signs of the times.’ The assaults on morality and Christianity seem to gain more and more traction as this second decade of our twenty−first century begins to wind down.
A Benedictine Oblate, I pray the Liturgy of the Hours with hundreds of thousands of priests and other persons of the Christian faith. On some days, there are readings which beg for our complete attention; my entire Morning Prayer for this day consists of just these two pages. Consider the richness of Procopius’s words as he reminds us of the power of the seven gifts of the Spirit.
“Counsel distinguishes these most sacred and eternal laws of God from anything opposed to them; for these laws are meant for man to ponder, to proclaim, and to fulfill. Insight disposes man to embrace these expressions of God’s will and to reject whatever contravenes them.”
The five “Wisdom Books” of the Bible along with the Psalms, have captured my heart from my very early days as a brand new Christian Catholic and novice Oblate.
The lyricism, poetry and unabashed anthropormorophism of these books are irresistible- if we halt...let the words wash over us to slowly, silently penetrate. We sense a connection, over time, a bridge to those men and women writing from the past. And we can see the mirror they hold up for our time, for yes, this twenty−first century.
Procopius is writing on Proverbs 9: 1-19.
Wisdom has built herself her house,
She has set up her seven columns,
She has dressed her meat, mixed her wine...she calls,
‘Let whoever is simple turn in here, to him who lacks understanding, I say,
Come eat of my food,
And drink of the food I have mixed!
Forsake foolishness that you may live;
advance in the way of understanding.
For by me your days will be multiplied
And the years of your life increased.
To the relentless and raucous voices shouting that our Church is darkened by sin; that our nation is beset by darkness, stealing our joy, Procopius calls out:
“Because the Word of God has mingled in man...and has given him a knowledge both of creation, and of himself as the Creator, it is natural for the things of God to have on man’s mind the inebriating effect of wine. Christ himself, the bread from heaven, is his nourishment enabling him to grow in virtue, and it is Christ who quenches his thirst and gladdens him with his teaching. For all who desire to share in it, he has prepared this rich banquet, this spiritual feast.