Selected Sermons, Volume 2
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
Title Page, Copyright
In 1953 the Fathers of the Church series published their seventeenth volume, comprising the homilies of St. Valerian and selected sermons of St. Peter Chrysologus, thereby making thirty percent of the authentic sermons of Chrysologus available to an English-speaking audience. In the half-century since that...
Peter Chrysologus was bishop of Ravenna in the fifth century. The two principal sources for the early history of the church in Ravenna are his sermons and the ninth-century Liber Pontificalis of the priest Agnellus. In his zeal for his native city, Agnellus gives us in his chronicle of the lives of the bishops...
SERMON 7: On Quinquagesima
When god changed himself from Lord into Father,2 he wanted to rule by love rather than power, and he preferred to be loved rather than to be feared;3 he warned us with fatherly affection not to lose anything from a very noble endeavor. Thus the evangelist...
SERMON 7A: On the Fast of Quinquagesima
As we are about to undertake the customary sacred fast of Quinquagesima,2 we must realize that what soap does for human bodies, this is what fasting supplies to Christian souls: it cleanses the filth off the senses, it washes away the offenses of the mind, it removes the crimes...
SERMON 8: A Second on the Same
When a prudent captain casts off from the coast, when he enters the deep to journey across the sea, he puts aside his concerns for his home, his country, his wife, his children; and he is so totally consumed in mind, body, and emotion with the tasks of sailing that he is able to...
SERMON 9: A Third on the Same and on the Gospel: “See to it that you do not perform your righteousness before human beings”
God deals with us, he deals with us in this world that we not lose anything in the future world, as is clear from the very beginning of the reading: See to it, it says, that you do not perform your righteousness before human beings, in order to be seen by them; otherwise you will have no recompense...
SERMON 10: On the Twenty-eighth Psalm
All who lighten and relieve the arduous rigors of their labors show that music has been given to us as a natural solace for toil. Hence, sailors overcome the perils of the sea by singing; in this fashion they transport immense burdens with the comfort of songs; hence, the sound of...
SERMON 12: A Second on Lent and on the Gospel: “Jesus was led into the desert”
Since we see that the springtime of the fast and the season of spiritual warfare have arrived, as soldiers of Christ, after ridding ourselves of any listlessness of body and soul, let us set forth to the field of the virtues, so that the limbs that have been softened by the leisure of the...
SERMON 13: A Third on Lent and on the Gospel: “Jesus was led into the desert”
Here is the season in which the soldier goes off to the field,2 and the Christian returns to fasting. Here is the season in which the idleness of the flesh, the listlessness of the mind, the concern for the belly and all the usual sloth and self-indulgence must be cleared away. Here is the season...
SERMON 14: On the Fortieth Psalm
For those experienced in battles the military trumpet signals discipline, but for those who are inexperienced it gives only a terrifying sound. The trumpet, the commander of wars, gives strength to her own, but gives fear to the enemy. The one who wages war without a trumpet...
SERMON 15: On the Centurion
You are about to hear today, brothers, how a centurion of a Roman cohort became a leader in the Christian army. And deservedly so because he began to teach before he believed. Jesus came, it says, to Capernaum. A centurion came up to him and addressed him with this request: “Lord...
SERMON 16: When Jesus Came to the Region of the Gerasenes
That christ crosses seas and visits places is not a matter of human desire, but is the cause of human salvation. Christ walks not in order to see places, but in order to meet human beings who had been perishing from various calamities. What would the One who had made the...
SERMON 17: A Second on the Same
That the lord came across the waters of the sea into the region of the Gerasenes, and that as soon as he disembarked from the boat he was met by a man who came out of the tombs, who had an unclean spirit, who had a dwelling in the tombs, and who was bound by chains and...
SERMON 18: On Simon Peter’s Mother-in-law
The attentive listener to today’s reading has learnt why the Lord of heaven entered the earthly dwellings of his servants. But it is no marvel if he who in his mercy had come to help all people did not disdain entering all places. When Jesus had come, it says, to Peter’s house, he saw...
SERMON 19: A Second on the Same or About the One Who Promised to Follow Christ Wherever He Would Go
Today the evangelist begins as follows: Upon seeing the crowds around him, Jesus gave the order to go across the sea (Mt 8.18). How often the slow-learning crowd pours out around the Lord, its conscience all stirred up and storm-tossed; it deserts a quiet place, heads for the waves...
SERMON 21: When Christ Was Asleep in the Boat
Whenever christ is asleep in our boat, and he is asleep in the body2 with the slumber of our sloth,3 the storm with whirling winds in full besets us, threatening waters surge, and while they repeatedly rise and fall with their waves of foam, they produce in the sailors a heightened fear of...
SERMON 23: A Second on Tricesima and on the Text: “Do not fear, little flock”
You have heard today how the Lord has joined the sound of the heavenly trumpet to the shepherd’s song, so that he might raise to divine matters the minds of his sheep that had been stooped down for so long, and immediately lift them up to the heavenly kingdom...
SERMON 24: A Third on the Same or on the Scripture Text: “Let your loins be girt”
No one is unaware that vigils are beneficial always and for all things, because in fact the more one stays awake, the more he lives; for what looks as much like death as the one who is asleep? What seems as full of life as one who is wide awake? We must make allowances to sleep so...
SERMON 25: A Fourth on the Same or on the Words: “Do not fear, little flock”
Today you have heard how the Lord consoled with soothing words of encouragement the flock of disciples2 that began so small and insignificantly. Do not fear, little flock, he says, because it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom (Lk 12.32). Hope removes anxieties, the outcome...
SERMON 26: A Fifth on the Same or On What Follows: And Peter Asked: “Lord, are you speaking this parable to us?”
The parable that the lord told in response to Peter’s question in today’s reading, many in the audience surely thought was spoken only to the apostles themselves, to the teachers, and to those who preside over churches. Peter asks: “Lord, are you speaking this parable to us or to...
SERMON 28: On Matthew Sitting at His Tax Booth
That poverty is related to the virtues, earthly and heavenly teaching attests. The athlete goes to the contest naked, the sailor battles the waves naked, the soldier maintains his post on the battle line only if he is unencumbered. Whoever is inclined toward philosophy first scorns...
SERMON 29: A Second on Matthew or On Avarice
While the lord calls forth and exalts Matthew the tax collector to the dignity of the apostolic ministry, he is giving a hand to those who have fallen, he is restoring hope to the hopeless, and he is bringing back to life those whom death was already holding subjected...
SERMON 30: A Third on Matthew
Today’s gospel reading changed Matthew the tax collector into an apostle in such a way that he who was a defrauder of money became a distributor of grace, and from the school of impiety he attained to a teaching position of piety, and he who had been an instructor in avarice...
SERMON 31: A Fourth on Matthew or On What John’s Disciples Said to Jesus: “Why do we fast but your disciples do not?”
Goodness is the mother of the virtues; malice is the origin of the vices. Glory accompanies the virtues; confusion clings to the vices as their relative.2 Thus, vices are deceitfully concealed, and virtues are freely brought to light. That is why Christ, the light of the virtues, acted openly...
SERMON 32: On the Withered Hand
All of the miracles of Christ are marvelous works of his powers, and they must not be believed to have happened in a human fashion or by chance, but by Divine design, as today the words of the Gospel have shown us. And Jesus entered, it says, into the synagogue; and there was a man...
SERMON 33: On the Ruler of a Synagogue Whose Daughter Was Ill
You are about to hear today,2 my brothers, and, as Saint Mark the Evangelist relates it, you are going to learn together with me, how a leader of a synagogue falls forward and prostrates himself before Christ; and he confesses him as both God and Lord, when he offers...
SERMON 34: On the Woman Healed of Her Flow of Blood
All the gospel readings bestow upon us great benefits for both the present and the future life; but today’s reading has, in addition, conferred everything conducive to hope, and excluded anything connected with despair. Our condition is a hard and lamentable one: our innate...
SERMON 35: A Second on the Same, When the Most Blessed Bishop Peter of Ravenna Lost His Voice
What it is to touch christ, today the woman who had long endured a hemorrhage has taught, who, when she touches Christ’s fringe, strikes at the entire sanctuary of his divine heart and by faith’s theft seizes the highest power from the end of the fringe. What happy...
SERMON 37: On the Gospel Where It Says: A Wicked and Adulterous Generation Seeks a Sign
Brothers, the deeds of the holy ones must not be considered as chance events, but as signs; and what are thought to be vices on their part, must be attributed to mysteries, not failings, as today the Lord’s instruction pointed out and revealed when it said...
SERMON 39: A Sermon on the Gospel Where It Says: Who among You Has a Friend and Will Go to Him at Midnight
Divine things are always sufficient on their own for themselves, but frequently they are conveyed to human beings by means of human examples because heavenly providence pays heed, not to what it can say, but to what the hearer can grasp. So, a fountain begins its route by...
SERMON 41: On Fasting
We have read of very many who have won wars of nations but, nevertheless, have not been victorious in battles of the flesh; and we have heard that those who did not give their backs to their enemies gave their hearts to sins. Oh, the pain of it all! How is it that conquerors of nations...
SERMON 42: A Second on Fasting
In the last sermon, brothers, we touched upon the benefits of fasting as far as we could; and that prayer should be connected to fasting, we have made clear in the conclusion of that sermon. But since fasting without mercy is deficient, fasting without kindness goes hungry,2 prayer without...
SERMON 45: On the Sixth Psalm
Your disposition shows and acknowledges with me that the response that we have sung today with the prophet as he makes supplication is opportune for this time and appropriate for the present evils. Lord, he says, do not rebuke me in your anger, nor reprove me in your rage...
SERMON 46: On the Ninety-fourth Psalm
Just as, when a person with a burning thirst is very dry and has been parched for a long time, to happen upon a fountain of cold water is a very happy and most welcome occurrence, so too, since we are overwhelmed by sadness and weighed down by the burden of numerous...
SERMON 48: When Jesus Came to His Homeland
As the evangelist today was about to relate the envy of the Jews towards Christ, he began as follows: Jesus came, he says, to his homeland and his home, and was teaching them in their synagogues, such that they were amazed and said: “Where did he get this wisdom and these powers? Isn’t he the son...
SERMON 49: A Second on When Jesus Came to His Homeland
As often as the holy evangelist mentions that the Lord endured or did human things, so often does a fleshly understanding2 throw everything into confusion like a tidal wave. For weak minds are not able to hear, to discern, and to interpret the mysteries of the Lord’s...
SERMON 50: On the Paralytic
That christ carried out divine mysteries in human actions and that he performed invisible actions in visible things2 today’s reading has made clear. He entered the boat, it says, and crossed the sea, and came to his own town (Mt 9.1). Is he not the one who made bare the depths of the...
SERMON 51: On a Deaf and Dumb Spirit
Because our area had been subjected to an unusually severe heat wave, I have been silent for a long time, lest the crowded conditions here, arising out of the desire to hear, might themselves generate even more dog-day heat.2 But now since the mild weather of autumn has...
SERMON 52: A Second on a Deaf and Dumb Spirit
The office of the teacher is to explain what has been read, and to elucidate and point out with clear speech what mystical meanings lay hidden,2 so that an inferior understanding may not wreak havoc on the listener out of the very place from which it should have and could have...
SERMON 54: On Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Just recently when the blessed evangelist was describing the life and end of the inhuman rich man, he moved our human emotions and saddened us.2 But today by mentioning the kindness and the faith of the rich Zacchaeus he has exalted us and brought us to heavenly...
SERMON 55: On the Gospel in the Creed, Where It Says: If One Asks His Father for Bread, Will He Give Him a Stone?
After the precepts of the law, filling up several volumes and collected in books, were not sufficient to make us appreciate God’s love, God’s affection takes root and works its way into people’s hard hearts through the use of comparisons and examples. If one among you, it says...
SERMON 56: On the Creed
The sudden and surprising disruption occasioned by a premature delivery would be worrying me, the birth of children ahead of schedule would be causing me great distress, if those about to be born, by their persistence in bursting asunder any obstacles of time and by...
SERMON 58: A Third on the Creed
The one who looks for faith does not look for reason; the one who asks for divine things puts human ones aside. The one who is born of God as Father transcends nature; and the one who is deemed worthy of the Author of time owes nothing to time. Now look, devoted...
SERMON 59: A Fourth on the Creed
You have heard the voice of your Father, you have heard his voice as he calls: “Come, my children.”1 Come, come, because the time of faith has come, the day of believing, the hour of professing. Come, seekers of faith, bring a sincere mind, a clean heart, a pure voice so...
SERMON 60: A Fifth on the Creed
If the Canaanite woman with an unexpected shout and with sudden faith both acquired what she wanted and extracted what was being denied her when Christ was going by;1 if the Ethiopian eunuch while passing by found the mystery of the bath of life, seized it on the...
SERMON 62: A Seventh on the Creed
Unless the one who is devoted to bringing up children regresses to childhood in every way, he never leads the child to mature adulthood. For this reason at such a moment, he softens his voice, he emphasizes his words, he nods and gestures, he suspends his judgment, he...
SERMON 62A: An Eighth on the Creed
2. And in Jesus Christ. He is mystically named Jesus as Savior and Christ as the anointed one.2 He is called Savior because he has become the Savior of his own creation. Moreover, just as kings have oil poured over them, so too does he have the fullness of divinity poured...
SERMON 63: On the Resurrection of Lazarus
After the reading from the apostle,2 while we are eager to return to the miracles in the Gospels, the next moment Lazarus comes to meet us upon his return from the underworld, supplying an illustration of how death is to be conquered and providing an example of the...
SERMON 64: A Second on the Resurrection of Lazarus
If a book each were allotted to each word of Scripture, and not even with that would the mysteries contained therein be entirely clear to those who heard them, what then will an extemporaneous and brief sermon do in providing elucidation? Before it illumines our eyes, it already...
SERMON 65: A Third on the Resurrection of Lazarus
Since we have already touched upon the death of Lazarus, the weeping of Mary, the tears of Martha, and the lamentations of the Jews in two sermons,2 let us now unburden our spirits, cast aside our cares, and free our understanding, so that with all our minds we may be able both...
SERMON 66: On Lazarus and Eleazar
Today we have had two readings written by two evangelists proclaimed1 so that your intellect might connect with what we are saying, and that what is hidden might be revealed. Why the occasion of Lazarus’s resurrection has compelled us to make mention of the other Eleazar2...
SERMON 68: A Second on the Lord’s Prayer
The mortal condition, the earthly body, the substance of mud, suspended between life and death, worn down by insecure labor, exhausted by suffering, and destined by its nature to decay and dust, has no capacity to grasp, is inadequate to consider, does not dare to pretend...
SERMON 69: A Third on the Lord’s Prayer
Do you think that a mortal heart grasps the extent of the Lord’s charity towards us? Do you think that a mind burdened by the weight of an earthly body2 can understand or realize God’s affection towards us? For whatever sparkles, shines, and gleams with the splendor of heaven...
SERMON 71: A Fifth on the Lord’s Prayer
Brothers, he who has bestowed upon you the gift of faith has also taught you how to pray,2 and he has fitted the whole formula3 of supplication into a few words, because when asking something of his father, a son does not have the arduous task of making a lengthy...
SERMON 72: A Sixth on the Lord’s Prayer
What I am now about to say with great trembling, what you are now about to hear fearfully, or rather what you are about to invoke fearfully, causes the angels to be astounded and the celestial powers to tremble. It is something that the sky does not grasp, the sun does not see, the...