Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 1


DR. NEALE, in the Introduction to his "Mediaeval Preachers and Mediaeval Preaching," quotes from one of St. Augustine's Paschal Homilies the following curious mystical interpretation of the hundred and fifty-three Fishes of the Second Miraculous Draught:--

"This number signifies the thousand thousands of the Saints and of the faithful. But why did the Lord vouchsafe to signify by these figures the many thousands who shall enter into the kingdom of heaven? Hear why. Ye know that the Law was given by Moses to the people of God; and that in that Law the Decalogue forms the chief part. . . . These ten precepts no man accomplishes by his own strength, unless he is helped by the grace of God. If, therefore, none can fulfil the Law unless God assist with his Spirit, ye must remember that the holy Ghost is set forth to us by the number seven. . . . Since, then, we need the Spirit to fulfil the Law, add seven to ten, and you have seventeen. Now, if you count from one to seventeen, you obtain one hundred and fifty-three. I need not count this up for you; count it for yourselves, and reckon thus: one and two and three and four make ten. In like manner add up the other numbers to seventeen, and you will have the holy number of the faithful and of the saints that shall be in heavenly places with the Lord."

This same calculation St. Augustine, we are informed, repeated substantially in a second and again in a third sermon: whence we may infer that however quaint such comments may appear to some hearers or readers, in others they arouse interest and promote edification.

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