[Source text: The Blickling Homilies: Edition and Translation by Richard J. Kelly (London: Continuum, 2003), also consulting The Blickling Homiles, ed and trans. R. Morris. Early English Text Society original series 58, 63 & 73 (London: Oxford UP, 1874-1880), & reprinted in Milwood, NY: Kraus Reprint, 1990). While both of these editions indeed include translations, I am finding ample room for improvement on both versions (which are surprisingly close, despite the iffy reviews the Kelly volume received).
I. In Natali Domini [On the Birth of the Lord] [beginning clipped off]
… [that his true] nature be disclosed and that sin be blotted out. And so was the sentence of Eve’s woe was reversed, that was pronounced to her, so she should give birth in pain and misery to her children, so that Mary would bear the Lord in bliss. Eve conceived children in criminal lust — but Mary would conceive the mild-hearted and innocent Christ within her own womb. Eve brought forth tears from her womb. Mary brought through herself the eternal gladness for all middle-earth.
Eve gave birth to her children in suffering, because she was impregnated in sinfulness. The Holy Spirit sowed that pure seed within her womb unpolluted, therefore that woman conceived — therefore she was a woman impregnated. And it was a miracle that she was impregnated without besmirching, and in her birthing she continued immaculate for ever.
Gabriel was an ambassador to her espousal. What did he say to her, or what did she hear, there when he spoke, “Be well, Mary, filled with graces. The Lord is with you!” And by this greeting she was made pregnant, because he brought upon his tongue perpetual salvation. The devil, through the venom-laden adder, deceived the first woman with his wicked implications and treachery all about her.
Therefore this angel spoke to the mother of our Lord and said thus: “Be well, Mary, filled with graces. The Lord is with you!” That grace was delivered on account of the sin of that first woman. She was called “full” not “barren,” because she was replete with grace, and because her sin was erased.
Let us hear now in what manner this arch-honored woman and holy in her singing made great joy and bliss, and she sang out and spoke thus: “Those starving he fills with goodness, and those wealthy he forsakes into emptiness.”
The angel he said unto her: ““Be well, Mary, filled with graces. The Lord is with you in your heart and within your womb and also as your aide! Yet be blissful, woman, because Christ from the heights of heaven and the majesties of angels mounts up into your womb, and he abjects himself so much from his fatherly homeland [and chooses] you as his mother.”
By these words, he may assume himself, and never will enclose himself — yet the faith must be extended from the earth unto the heavens. What we have now heard, that the Heavenly King entered into the tiny womb of that ever-immaculate woman, that was the temple of that fruitfulness and all purity.
The angel spoke to her: “Be blessed among all the kindred of women, therefore the blossom of your womb is blessed.” Within that angel’s words was heard that her baby must be cured all the family of women and men as well. The first mother of this human sort delivered a wracking torment to middle-earth, when she broke God’s behest, and she was cast away into this wracking torment. She had made for herself that greatest of punishment and for all her kin, and that torture was so strong that every human must come into this world with pain and exist here in sorrow, and turn away in suffering.
And now this holy woman Saint Mary brought unto all of the faithful that blessing and eternal salvation. Let them now love her therefore, all the kindred of women and men, and let them worthy her, by words and by deeds, because she sheltered a great thing — she took up into her meager bosom God the Son of his Father, whom heaven and earth cannot enclose.
Let us love our Shaper and praise him after our manner, with all our power, just as we are able to hear that that holy woman did — she loved him with the inwardness of her heart, and with a joyous spirit she sang these verses and said thus: “ My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, therefore he has shown this humility to his handmaid. From this every generation calls me blessed, therefore he did a great deed for me, he who is mighty, and his name holy, and his mild-heartedness is great among the Israelites, and among every kindred of humankind who dreads him.”
The Lord has come into middle-earth among the kindred of Israel and established the exemplar of the Eternal Life, and they call up to the Heavenly Realm, through the work of miracle and through these Gospel teachings. And they now despise his precept, and they betook themselves into envy, and hung him upon a rood. And through his agony he conquered their ancient error, and he abased the Devil’s rule in this middle-earth. And there the cry of Eve was shut away by means of that ever-pure woman.
This is a sign, that Mary, after the that angel’s blessing and praising, pondered these tidings for a long while, and in silence she thought what those praisings could mean. That heavenly emissary then revealed to her and spoke thus: “Do not be adread, Mary, you who have met with grace before God. You will conceive a son who you will name the Savior.”
After that she heard about the first of this godly stock, then she said thus: “How can this be made so? Because I have known no man.” Then the angel said to her: “The Holy Spirit has come down into you, and the power of the Highest enwraps you, that one who will be called the Holy Son of God.”
Again he spoke: “Open now that fairest breast of yours, the most pure, and let that tabernacle of your womb be extended, and let the inspiration of heavenly embracing be winded within you. And let that kindly heat of the power of Holy Spirit be still within you, and let that embracing womb of yours be adorned with every fairness. The scarlet of roses glitters upon you, and the white of lilies sparkles in you, and with every sort of blossom that thrives let the chamber of Christ be decorated.”
The angel then soon said: “Answer me, woman, for what reason are you slow to light up middle-earth? And the angel of the Lord awaits your consent. What have you heard, how it can be that the Holy Spirit comes down upon you, and the power of the Highest radiates about you, and you will conceive the King of Every Purity and your maidenhead shall never be spoiled. For a long time now the door to the heavenly realm, through which I was sent hither, has stood locked fast through the first of humanity — now it must be opened wide through you. Lo you, blessed Mary, this entire prison-world awaits your consent. Because God has ordained you as his pledge upon middle-earth, and through you Adam’s guilt must be reconciled to him who was swollen in wrath for ages at the sins of humanity, so that he locked fast that holy home. Through you the incoming must be thrown open at once, and you will aid the kindred of humans. Therefore the Heavenly King has made ready your womb as chamber for his Son, and a great rejoicing within your bridal chamber. And he will forgive every sort of fault whatsoever this middle-earth has committed against him previously.”
Lo dearest people, great was this messenger, and he brought a great message, wherefore his name was “God’s strength.” Well was that spoken, because he pronounced and announced the future to come of that one who held power over all creation, and the beginning of his rule, and neither his might nor his majestic triumph shall be found wanting nor become faded, yet he shall be ever eternal. Then the Evangelist reveals that the blessed woman, Saint Mary, was afeared and answered with her trembling voice humbly spoke thus: “I am the handmaiden of the Lord, may it happen to me by your words.” Lo what lovely meekness was there within that ever-immaculate woman. The angel said to her that she must become the mother of her Shaper, and she called herself his handmaiden.
And then he the heavenly ambassador soon turned homewards into that upwards realm, from whence he had been sent before. Then he the Lord assumed within her bed-chamber, upon that lofty throne so suitable, the raiment of flesh upon his divine form. Then was sent down the gold-hoard of godly power into the constraint of that untouched womb, and then he after the space of nine months burst forth, just as the prophet said about him and spoke thus: “The Lord has set his habitation in the sun, and from there he has emerged as the bridegroom from his spousal chamber.”
That was when the Glory-King came forth into middle-earth from the womb of that ever-immaculate woman, and then as an expectant giant so the Lord dwelt merrily on middle-earth until he arrived at the high seat of the Cross, and climbing upon it he fortified all our lives. He gave up his crimson jewel, that was his holy blood, and thereby he made us all partners in that heavenly realm, and it shall happen that on the Day of Judgment he will come to pass sentence upon the living and the dead. Then will all of creation be terrified—heavenly dwellers as well as earthly.
Let us be gladdened then in covenant between God and humanity, and in the joining of the groom with his bride—that is, Christ and that Holy Church. Let us be reverent of Christ laid in a manger, because through that humility he filled up by fourfold this middle-earth with the faithful. Let us worthy the clothing of our condition, from which our nature was renewed. Let us worthy also Sainted Mary, because she is ours to praise to bless, because she was announced as blessed by ranks of angels. So it is to be credited that the angels beheld her eagerly from that day when they knew her, the blessed Mary, was enlarged by the Holy Spirit. Within her was fulfilled what was chanted in the Song of Songs and spoken thus: “Solomon’s bed was set about with wards, that is, with sixty warriors, of the strongest who were in Israel, and every one of them bore a sword upon his hip for the nightly terror.” Behold now, what was that bed of Solomon anything other than that holy womb of the ever-immaculate? That peaceable King, our Savior Lord Christ, chose that womb and sought it out.
But what does it mean, those sixty strong men who were standing about that bed from nightly terror? That was when that holy woman was surrounded by a heavenly battle-host, the files of angels in order to keep her, because they were aware that the Heavenly King dwelt within her. So then the celestial angels shielded and warded every holy soul in which the Peaceable King inhabits.
On this day that heavenly gold-hoard entered into the circuit of this world from the lofty throne of our Shaper, that is Christ, the Son of the Living God, who came as an adorning and as an honoring of his bride, and who lives within every holy thing. Therefore let us adore our Lord with all our lives, and over every other thing, because he by his great mildness of heart, abased himself so that he sought us during our pilgrimage, and gave to us a wholesome idea and a heavenly commandment. Therefore we must keep all our lives in humbleness, according to this exemplar of Holy God the King. For that reason she perceived that the Son of the Living God had sought her out. Then was she the more humble in every matter, as she made patent by those words when she extoled the Lord and spoke thus: “My soul glorifies the Lord.” She did not praise him with words alone, but with all her heart.
Let us love him now and magnify his name not only in favorable moments, but also in disagreeable moments, when he does not allow us to be tempted beyond reason. If we with our humility endure everything, then the Lord will become our firmest support, and our best shield against all the devil’s tribulations.
She spoke, “I am the handmaid of my Lord, let it become for me by your words.” That was unhesitant humility when she called herself a handmaid, and the angel revealed to her that she was chosen as mother to the Shaper, and he revealed to her that she was the most blessed above all the kindred of women. Well it behooved her to be so humble while she carried the humble king and mildhearted, who said of himself to his thegns, “Learn at my feet, because I am mildhearted and humble.”
Well it suits him to come down to earth through the pure limbs of that holy woman so that we the more readily should know that he is the First-Start and Teacher of all purity. And so we believe and know readily that such no man bears mildheartedness, who does not keep Christ’s dwelling and habitation in his heart. Now when, dearest men, we believe in our Lord, and love him, and hold onto his commandments, then it is fulfilled within ourselves what he himself said: “Blessed be the pure of heart, because they will look upon God. In that vision let all the faithful remain, and his bliss without end. Allow them to rejoice with him forever, where he abides and rules in eternity, ever perpetual. Amen.
II. For Quinquagesima Sunday
Now listen, beloved people, how Luke the Evangelist spoke about this present season, and also about the one ahead, and how the Lord wished to come into this place where he wished to suffer. When the moment approached, the Healing Lord took his twelve thegns apart from the rest and said to them: “Now we shall travel to Jerusalem, and there will be fulfilled all the holy scriptures that have been written about the Son of Man. And he will be given over to heathen men so that they may mock him. They will bind him and beat him and spit into his face. And after the beating they will slay him, and upon the third day he will rise up from death.” Those men, the thegns of Christ, were not at that time able to comprehend any of those words, for they were obscure to them, because they were still enwrapped in worldly thoughts.
Then it so happened that the Healing Lord drew near to Jericho, and there sat a certain blind beggar by the road, and he heard a great many traveling before him. Then he asked them who they were. They answered him, speaking out: “It is the Healing Lord the Nazarene.” Then the beggar called out in a loud voice and spoke thus: “Have mercy on me, Son of David. Have mercy on me.” Those going in the van ordered him to be silent, but the more they restrained him, the louder he called out and spoke thus: Have mercy on me, Son of David. Have mercy on me.”
The Healing Lord then stopped and ordered them to lead the beggar to him. And when he neared him, he spoke to the beggar: “What do you want me to do?” The blind man replied to him: “Lord, make it so I can see again.” The Healing Lord replied to him: “Look now, your own faith has healed you.” And immediately at that moment he could see then, and then at once he followed the Lord, and he praised him and worthied him. And all the people who observed this miracle magnified his name.
What we now have heard in this holy Gospel read before us, and though we must repeat it soon, so that we can know the more eagerly what pertains to us as an exemplar of the Eternal Life. Now we have already heard that the Healing Lord said to his thegns about his suffering and his pain and the besmirching that he wished to endure among the Jews. Therefore he did these things because he wished that, when they witnessed his cruel chains, they would be too vexed in their spirits. And when they observed him dying, so then they would be consoled when he promised his Resurrection, which he truly fulfilled—similarly he did so regarding his suffering. His thegns, still of their fleshly minds, were not yet strengthened in ghostly power, therefore they could not understand these words of heavenly mystery. Nevertheless, he confirmed their faith by his heavenly deeds, even though they did not perceive that word of celestial secret.
Now we must, people most beloved, revert into the truthfastness of faith in our Lord the Healing Christ, when he by his great might worked these miracles before the eyes of humanity. We did not know before who the blind man was — but now we can comprehend what that mystery betokens. All human kindred was in blindness since the first humans were pushed out of the joys of Paradise-plain and abandoned the brightness of that heavenly light and suffered the shadows of this world and its miseries. Then the Lord, through his advent, blazed forth in this middle-earth. And he founded the course of life’s way for every faithful human, that they can merit the light of eternal life through the zeal of our spirits and with good deeds. The Holy Scriptures signify to us this world is much like the moon, because when it waxes, it is like those good humans that trust in the eternal light, and when the moon wanes, then it betokens our mortality and the world’s ebbing.
The Evangelist spoke, when the Healing Lord approached Jericho, that light turned upon the blind. That symbolizes that his divine nature grasped our weak being, when he turned that heavenly light at once towards this kindred of humanity, which the earliest humans abandoned. And because God passed downwards to us as he wished, we were heaved upwards into his divine nature. Rightful that was when the blind man beside the road indigent, because the Lord himself said: “I am the way of truthfastness.” And he who does not know the brightness of eternal light is blind. And he lives and believes who sits indigent beside the road, and as he awaits the eternal light, and he never ceases. Then he perceives not the darkness of his own sins — he knows that he is lacking the eternal light, unless he amends what he has neglected before.
Let us call forth now with a painful mind and inward heart, as did the blind man, and speak: “Have mercy on me, Son of David. Have mercy on me.” Let us ponder now and think about what this signifies, when the multitude restrained the blind man who cried out. I will say to you what that multitude signified. These fleshly desires and these unruly vices often come through the devil’s earlier instigation to the human heart, before the works of the Lord are allowed to abide there. And they will become moved within their spirit with many types of thought, so that the voice of their hearts will become quite agitated in their prayers.
Let us hear now why the blind man took on the light, and what he did when the many compelled him to be silent. He cried aloud even more and even more eagerly begged the Healing Lord to be merciful to him. That is when we must be instructed by this exemplar — when we are harassed by a great hunger for evil thinking, then we must eagerly ask him to shield us against the thousand crafts of the devil’s temptation. So says the Evangelist, that the Healing Lord ventured forward there and heeded the blind man’s call, and he stopped at once and wrought that miracle, so that he illumined the blind man.
Let us hear now that the kindred of humanity is ever going forth, and the divine force always stands steadfastly. What else did the divine obtain through its mortality if not the ability to be born and be alert […] and to rise up and travel from one place to another? Moreover, there was then no transformation of his divine nature in its prison of humanity, much less of his divine might. He will be eternal and everpresent, filling every place, encompassing from on high, and always existing perpetually. That betokens to us that he, through his humanity, heeds our blind voices. When we confess our sins and plead for forgiveness, then he will be at once compassionate and swiftly mercying and forgiving o our sins.
Also it to be considered what the Lord spoke, when the blind man came to him. He said, “What do you want me do?” This was not because he did not know what the blind man wished, that one who knows all affairs and who gave him light. Yet the Lord wanted the man to ask him, he who had decreed at first that he would grant eternal life to those asking. Accordingly, he instructed us and reminded us how we ought to pray and yet he said, “Your Father who lives in heaven knows what you need, before you ever ask him.” We can understand that he indeed established us so that we must ask him, because we must also, in the time of our prayer, cleanse our hearts from other intentions.
Let us also hear that the blind man did not ask for gold nor silver nor mortal honors — but he asked for light for his eyes. What we understand then is that man may be blind, though he possesses much and many fair things. That is a great injury if he cannot see that.
Dearest people, let us emulate that blind man, who was healed in his body and also in his mind. Let us not pray to our Lord for loaned wealth nor for these earthly gifts that depart so swiftly from humankind, yet let us pray the Lord to give us a light that is never exhausted. This light we hold for our mutual good, yet that light we must seek after, so that we be allowed to keep in community with the angels in spiritual majesty. That light ceases at no time. In that light is the way of fulfillment that we must venture upon, that is rightful belief. That can exist so easily that certain people may think or say, “How can I seek a spiritual light that I cannot see, or in what way must it be made known to me so when I, with the eyes of my body, cannot see it?” That person can be very quickly answered: what can the body believe except through the soul? Let those people resolve that their very own souls be unable to see. Yet everything whatsoever the corporeal body does or achieves, it all is done by the invisible soul through that same body. And then the soul shall be parted from its body, which will become at that moment much like stone or wood. Nor will it stir again after the invisible soul shall pass from it, yet it moulders and becomes like the same earth that it was created from — until the Lord arrives upon the Day of Judgment and commands the earth to restore what it has taken before. And the body will become deathless at that moment, though it was liable to death previously when the earth received it — and all must returned to it according to its merits.
Let us now hear, people most beloved, what is recorded in God’s books, that one who begins to do good and then ceases, will not be dear to God on that last day. Yet he who begins to do good deeds and endures in them until the end of his days, he shall become whole again. Therefore we have need to comprehend then the blindness of our estrangement. We are sent on an excursion in this world. We are alien to this world, and so have been since the oldest ancestor of the kindred of humanity broke the commands of God. And for that shame we were send on this trail of exile, and now must seek out a second home, in wrack or in glory, as we wish now to merit. If we consent to believe in the Lord and recognize him, then we shall be sitting beside the road just as the blind man did. That is when we must believe in him and our consciousness become replete with good deeds. Then we shall follow our Healing Lord, just as the blind man was after he could see.
Here it is known to us that the Evangelist said what the Lord spoke to Peter, when he asked to be allowed to travel and bury his father. The Healing Lord answered him then and said, “You must follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” By this he set up an example that no person must love or be mindful of` his relatives, if he first delays the service of God. Let us consider also that the Lord shaped the angels, as well as heaven and earth and the seas, and everything that lives within them. Every place he fills and embraces and sustains from beneath, and he will be present anywhere. Yet he abased himself for these things for their necessities, so that he climbed into the humble womb of that pure woman, and he took on her kind out of love for us who he made before. And he wished not to choose wealthy parents, but those who had few worldly goods. Nor did they have a single lamb to give to him, yet they sufficed [to give] him two pigeons and a mated pair of turtle doves — yet they were begotten of David’s lineage, of the legitimate royal descent.
Now let us hear that the Lord despised the riches of this world and soon, after a space, suffered many shameful deeds at the hands of the miserable Jews. They beat him and bound him, and spat into his face, and struck him with their open palms, and battered him with their fists. And then they wound a crown of thorns and set it upon his head for a princely helm, and they hung him upon the rood. He endured all this for our love and salvation, for the reason that he wished that we take up the heavenly realm, that the earliest humans wasted by their greed and overweening pride. What fruit will we bear on Doomsday, when we have suffered for our Lord — when he suffered so many things for our love? Many are the men who state that they believe in God and love him, and yet they do not wish to part with their unrighteous treasures and their avarice. Yet they will be heaved up into pride, and also they will be burned with the bitterness of envy, and they will be smitten by their unclean lusts.
O people, those ones, those who follow these vices, do not keep the commandments of the Lord or do they follow his example. Yet they firmly follow the devil’s precepts and incitements — and always he entices them to all these sins and to the love of this world with his lying arts. And he who does not wish to resist him then, he shall merit his grim ending and conduct himself into perpetual destruction. Let us remember now these daily sins of ours, that we have wrought contrary to God’s desires, so that we may amend them by fasting with all our might, and by our prayers, and by our almsdeeds, and by our sincere regret.
That will be the true regret — so that someone may confess the workings of sin and eagerly amend them. Let us weep now, and speak aloud and consider how the Lord spoke, “Blessed are those who weep now, for they will be soon comforted.” What we must hear now is that we can merit eternal bliss with our true regret. And he said as well, “Woe be yours who laugh now, for soon you shall weep forever.” That is an unspeakable wrack and an never-ending torment that has been decreed for the misfortunate. It would be better for him that he was never born.
Therefore we must be mindful of God’s commandments and the need of our souls so long as we are allowed, And let us ask eagerly of our Lord that he spare us from this enduring death, and lead us into the joys of his glory where is eternal bliss and the never-ending realm. There is not any pain measured out, nor plague, nor longing, nor anything gloomy. There is no fear there, nor conflict, nor wrath, nor contention. Yet there is rejoicing and bliss and much beauty. And that home is replete with heavenly spirits, with angels and high-angels, with our first-fathers and the apostles, with the countless hosts of holy martyrs — those all are allowed to abide with the Lord in this world of all worlds.
III. Dominica Prima in Quadragesima [First Sunday in Lent]
Most beloved people, here Matthew the Evangelist says that the Healing Lord was led into the wilderness, and that he was tempted by the devil, and after he fasted for forty days and forty nights then he grew hungry. Then the tempter came to him and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, order these stones to turn into loaves.” The Healing Lord answered him and said to him, “The life of man should not be for bread alone, but for all of the words that go from the mouth of God.”
Then the accursed spirit seized him and conducted him into the holy city, and he set him atop the temple tower. And he said to him, “If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down from this height, for it is written that your angels shall keep you in their hands lest you strike your foot.” The Healing Lord soon answered him and said, “Tempt not your Lord God.”
The devil then took him a third time, and he brought him upon an exceedingly lofty mountain and showed him every realm of this world — and the idle glory of middle-earth. And he said to him, “I will give all this to you, if you fall down before me and honor me.” The Healing Lord answered him and said, “Get behind me, O contrary one, for it is written, ‘Worship God your Lord and serve him alone.” Then the tempter left him alone, and his angels came to him and waited upon him.
People most beloved, it is known that the Lord at once, after he stepped from the bath of baptism, went immediately to the fasting. And it was established by the holy fathers and the teachers of God’s people, the time of this fasting before the suffering of Christ, and they clearly revealed that the terrifying Day of Judgment will arrive at the time when the Son of God suffered upon the gallows rood. Yet it is for us to consider that our Lord fasted after his baptism, and was also tempted. There is need for us then to fast, because we are often tempted by the devil after our baptism. The Lord warned us with his fasting, and with his every deed, that we must serve him and conquer the devil, and gain for ourselves eternal life. We must then consider well, with great mindfulness, that the Almighty — he who was in the shape of God, co-eternal with God the Father — took on the shape of our frail nature. We must consider also if there were other beasts to be hallowed and brought into eternal life, then he would have taken on their shape. Yet he wished to take on our shape, so he established an exemplar of God for us all. Therefore all whatsoever we perform for God in mildheartedness, or in humility, or in the power of spiritual courage, or in the fullness of God’s commandments, or in the welling-upward of the true love for God and humanity — everything that is good comes from the wellspring of God’s mildheartedness, and is drawn forth from the power of the Holy Trinity.
What we have heard, that the Evangelist said that the Healing Lord was conducted into the wilderness, and that he was tempted by the devil. It is for us to believe that came to that place, and he was not forced to, nor was he compelled to, but it was by his own will. And therefore he came to that place because he wished to battle with that accursed ghast. Rightfully did he go into the wilderness, where Adam was undone before. For three causes did the Healing Lord go into the wilderness — for he wished that devil would strive with him, to rescue Adam from his lengthy tribulation, and to reveal to humanity that this accursed spirit covets those whom he sees hastening towards God.
His temptation was also of three manners — first, that one said, “Do just as I command you two to do, then you will be just like God.” Then he tempted the Son of God by idle glories when he said, “If you are the Son of God, cast yourself downwards.” Holy men then perceived that he was the true Son of God, because the voice of God the Father was heard at his baptism saying thus, “This is my dear son, in whom I am well pleased.” Then it is well-known the accursed ghast began to expound upon God’s books and started lying at once. Therefore was it not spoken that Christ would not stumble upon a stone? But that was said about holy men. Because angels are always a comfort to holy men, just as they must. The Healing Lord replied to the devil: “Tempt not the Lord your God.” It was not fitting to tempt him, even though he charged into such peril, and wished to find out whether God wished to place him in danger.
The devil said, “All this I shall give you, if you fall down before me and do me worship.” Alas truly, he plummets who worthies the devil. It is to be believed that the Lord could at that time of day behold all the beauty of this middle-earth, either of its gold or of its dearworthy raiment. Yet the perverted devil spoke a word perversely, when he wished to give this earthly dominion to that king, lofty and heavenwards, to the one that makes ready the heavenly realm for all the faithful. Yet that malicious creature wished that Christ worship him — he that hovered over the majestic seats of the heavenly realm, and his foot-stool is the earthly kingdom, whom no one of this earth can look upon. Yet all of the holy there praise him and do him reverence, for his supreme might. So we ought to worthy him with words, and serve him in our deeds. He spoke, “Get behind me, and be mindful how much wickedness has come to be by your gluttony and your overweening pride! And for your empty boasts! And therefore I shall never follow you, because you are overcome in this majesty!”
This assertion the Lord took from the wise. Excellently did David pronounce this, when he wished to fight against Goliath, when he took up five stones his little bag, and nevertheless, with just one, he cast down that giant. So Christ conquered the devil with this statement. Then we must consider that we are praising and loving the Lord as we thus achieve these deeds with all goodwill and all glorying, so that he who was disposing and arranging prior to all the world, he wished to release this middle-earth from the devil’s sovereignty with his son’s body. That very same son was conceived by God the Father before all time, the Almighty from the Almighty, and the Eternal from the Eternal.
Therefore his might is ever eternal, and his realm shall never be corrupted. So spoke the prophet upon these matters: “A man will be born from Judah, and he will rule over every nation.” And because of all these gifts that he granted by his arrival, there is no greater power nor branch of humanity more efficacious than he who conquered the accursed ghast, the bloodthirsty foe of humankind. Therefore no human can defeat him. And the devil holds no power over us, unless some man through the vacillation of his heart does not wish to withstand him. Through Christ’s victory all blessed people were liberated, those who serve him in righteousness and holiness. So then the sinful shall be humbled by their Creator, just as he was humbled in turn.
Listen — we have heard that the evangelist related that the Healing Lord was conducted from devil into the holy city, and also onto a high mountain. Then this seems so very terrible to faithful men — yet if we peer closely into these deeds of humility that Jesus performed, then it should seem to us no wonder at all. It is well-known that the accursed ghast is the head of every unrighteous action, even as unrighteousness is the limbs of the devil. Therefore it is no wonder even though the high king and the eternal Lord let himself be conducted onto that high mountain, he permitted himself to be hung upon the Cross by the devil’s limbs and by evil men. There is nothing to marvel at although he was tempted ever since his arrival, until he was ready to be slain. Therefore he overcame our temptation with his own temptation — and our death with his own. The Lord was enfleshed within the womb of an ever-pure woman, and came into middle-earth without sin, and all his life he lived without sin, although he avoided temptation.
Yet it is for us to look deeply into that the Lord did not wish to reveal his mighty power through that temptation — he who could plunge that temptation at once into the bowels of hell, if he wanted to, yet with but a word of Godly Scripture he overmastered him. With his patience he set up for us an example, so that as often as we might suffer aught unpleasant by evil men, we ought then to be roused more strongly and incited to holy precept, and to be all the more eager to keep the commandments of God, so then we may requite our injury. Also it is for us to consider how great is God’s patience, and how pervasive is our impatience. And if aught vex us, then we are angry at once, and we wish to be avenged, if we can, though we threaten to. Lo, what the Lord endured patiently of the devil’s temptation. He wished to never reply but with gentleness, he who could smite the devil at once into hell. Yet he wished that his praise should grow more resounding, that he bested him with patience, more strongly than if he had extinguished him right away. Yet it was revealed by that he was of single order though of two kindred: he was truly a mortal, by which the devil dared to tempt him, but likewise he was God indeed, by which angels served him. We can perceive in this fact the kindred of our stock, so that if the devil had not seen in him our relation, he would not have tempted him. Therefore let us worthy him of the divinity of the Lord, if were not truly God above all creation, angels never would have served him. By this exemplar is revealed that angels may be servants to all faithful men, when they have overmastered the devil.
Okay, so we have heard what a fasting of these forty days was instigated at that moment after he had come forth from his baptism, and went at once into the wilderness. And then the elders of the church have ordained that fasting before the day of his Passion and also before the coming of Doomsday terrifying. It is rightful that all believing men ought to live in obedience these forty days, and it is also for us to consider our obligation to hold fast these ten commandments and the precepts of the four Evangelists, because our bodies were molded of the four elements: of earth, of fire, and of water, and of wind. So we also fall into sin by four means: through thought, through words, and through deeds, and through desires. Likewise there are four seasons in the year, during which we often fall into sin. Then we must purify ourselves in abstinence these forty nights.
It’s true — we have heard that we must, within the count of fourteen, just as the people of God were eagerly commanded, give up the tenth share of our worldly goods that we possess, and we must also live the tenth part of our days in abstinence. Readily we know that there are in a year three hundred and five and sixty days. If we then omit six Sundays in those six weeks of fasting, then there are no more than six and thirty days of fasting. And if we live those days completely for God, then we have given the tenth part of our days for the sake of God. And ponder that we have lived the whole year according to the desires of our body. Now there is a great need that we give away the tenth part for God’s sake, and live in abstinence, and cleanse our sins, and earn ourselves eternal life.
The days of these forty nights betoken this present world, and the days of Easter betoken eternal blessedness. And so we must now live these days in greater abstinence, and these awful affairs are of this world, so we can hold onto the greater bliss of Easter-days, and so we must live for some time here in this world. We have committed such sorrow against our Lord, and done him remedy as well, so that we earn through that the forgiveness of our sins, and eternal life after this existence in a perpetual blessedness. Let us eagerly consider that we keep hold of ourselves during this time, against these capital crimes, because any one of these men who ends his life in them, then he will be dragged down into eternal torment. Then we must now cleanse ourselves eagerly on account of these daily-done sins in our time — with fasting, with holy vigils, with almsdeeds. So we must also fill our hearts with the sweetness of holy commandment, which is measured out in no place at all devoid of spiritual power, so that wicked faults should be able to thrive in those places. Nor can we exist except in a smattering of sin, but we must live these few days in abstinence, cleansing our bodies and our hearts from wicked thought while we can. Therefore the bliss and the surfeit of our bodies draws these men into sin, and this abstinence cleanses us and leads us into forgiveness.
Nor let it be believed by no one that fasting is sufficient for eternal salvation, unless one augments it with other good deeds. And that one who wishes to bring out fasting as an acceptable exchange to the Lord. Upon this subject Isaiah the prophet spoke: “Break your loaves for needy men, and clothe them as soon as you see them naked of garb, and never despise your own kindred.” What we should hear by that is God is pleased by fasting, if that man also heaves us his hands for almsdeeds. The mild-hearted Lord, our Shaper, takes on with great pleasure all those good deeds that any man performs for his neighbor with a heart fixed in mercy and mildness. And whichever man should choose fasting with other good deeds, and his body on other days takes on food, and then repletes the wretched happily, and comforts his neighbor in those things that he has denied himself, then that will be a pure fasting and holy.
About this the prophet Joel spoke: “Consecrate your fasting, and bring a meager gift unto the Lord.” It is our body’s abstinence and almsdeeds that give the wretched rejoicing. Though not all men are able to do this — yet it must be done by those who God has allowed their worldly goods, because those given these riches must aid the wretched. Then it is now to be considered in this holy season — now we purify our bodies with fasting and with prayers, so that we also purify our minds from wicked words. And let us always commit to the commandments of God with a contented mind, when we leads us into an eternal life, where we may look upon all holy things afterwards, and the fairest countenance of our Shaper, where he loves and reigns without end into Eternity.
IV. Dominica Tertia in Quadragesima [Third Sunday in Lent]
Hear me now, dearest fellows, what the noble preceptor said about the people’s paying of tithes. He spoke, “Now it draws near that we must draw together our possessions and our fruits.” Then we make thanks to the Lord eagerly who gave us these profits, and may we be mindful of what Christ himself commanded of us in these Gospels. He said that we always [must] render every twelve months the tenth part of what we have made in exchange. How much our Lord abased himself, so that he gave us all those profits that the earth springs forth. Although he shared them out variously unto humanity, yet he ordered us to share always every twelve months the tenth part of wealth in his name, both blossoming and lively. He never asked this because there was any need in him, but because he wished to reveal his mercy to us over both the heavens and earth. There is then much need for us to submit to him, so that we might enjoy the fairness of his glory. So the Lord himself was speaking through wise men when he said, “Bring unto my barn your tenth portion.” What barn did he mean other than the heavenly realm? And he also said, “Do this so that meat may be ready for you in my house.” What did he mean other than we [must] fill needy bellies with our goods? Then we should never go hungry in eternity, yet he opens up the channels of heaven for us, and he grants us the copia of his crops.
And think about all these matters, O foolish one, what evils ever commanded the Lord so that his teaching should not be worthy for humanity to hear? When he says in these books that the Lord himself told that this kindred of men must not neglect to give their first fruits unto God. And if we do not do this now, then we produce much sin among us. And for us it is yet worse when we give tithes of our wealth, if we wish to give the worst of ours unto God. So speaks the noble teacher, “Worthy the Lord God with meet things of yours, and offer him your fruits with sincerity. Then the Lord shall fill your barn with abundance.” Nor need you believe that you give for nothing — what you give in the security of the Lord — though you do not receive all at once that reward. It is the expectation though that many people will think what reward they shall accrue at the hand of the Lord, or how God will recompense them for what they previously gave unto the wretched. “If you believe it then,” says the Lord, “that what you gave of your goods in my name shall be given to your benefit — it shall bring forth a hundredfold reward unto your souls.” If you are then doubtful about these alms which you give in God’s name, and you fear that you will receive reward too light, then you shall lose those alms which you now give unto God, and they will become n reward for you.
It says in this Gospel that our tithes shall be a tribute unto the wretched. Give now the tenth portion of all your wealth which you possess unto poor people, and to God’s church, for the most abased of God’s servants who the church honors with godly joys, because the church must feed them who dwell within her. Witness now how blithe be the wretched when one engladdens them with meat and raiment. Much more blithe will be of the soul of man when one shares alms on behalf of the church [lit. her]. Therefore about these alms and this fasting, she must live without end. He who lives without alms and fasting shall be destroyed in hell, and he never will have rest. So Saint Paul spoke that God ordered that all those at the door of heaven’s realm shall be confounded, those who abandoned their church, and rejected hearing God’s joys. Therefore no person need doubt in nothing: a forsaken church cannot look after those who dwell nearest to her. Therefore, my dearest brothers, give up your tithes to her, and there share with God those things that their orders may keep honestly, who wish to cultivate God’s praise with righteousness.
Thus the noble teacher commanded man to keep God’s law with righteousness, and support God’s church fast, both its unlearned men and its holy orders. Those mass-priests, who be the teachers of God’s church, they must show their shrift-books with righteousness and teach them, just as they judged our fathers before. Nor do they never turn aside, these mass-priests, for no terror of human realms, nor for money, nor for love of man at all, so that he judges them rightfully ever and ever, if he should escape God’s judgment himself. Nor must he also be too eager for the cash of dead men, nor too little thankful for their alms, because they believe that he can absolve them of their sins. And these teachers must show and teach humbly for sinful people, so that they know how to confess rightfully their sins, because they are so very manifold, and some are so unclean, that that man turns aside ever from speaking them unless the mass-priest should ask about them. “Alas,” said Saint Paul, “that shall be the devil’s gold-hoard, when one secrets his sins from shrift.” Therefore for the adversary the sins of these men shall be more pleasing than all earthly gold-hoards. The mass-priest who is too slow to drive the devil out of a man, and most speedy delivers these souls into the house of the adversary with oil and with water, he is then condemned to the fiery stream and to the iron hook. Then said Saint Paul that he saw not far from a mass-priest’s side, who we have spoken about before, that he should be dragged with an iron hook into the pitchy river, a second old man, led by four accursed angels with great ferocity. And they immersed him in the flaming river to his knee, tormenting his head with fiery chains so that he was not allowed to say, “Have mercy on me, God!” Then spoke the noble teacher to those angels that drug him, “Who is this old man?” The angel replied to him, “This is a bishop who did more evil than good. He received before the world a mighty name, and he despised them all and the Shaper who gave him that name.” Then said Saint Paul that this bishop had no mercy for widows, nor for orphans, nor for any of God’s needy — thus he was recompensed according to his own works.
And here it says in these books that for those bishops who are here in the world, so it goes for them much like these bishops who Paul saw in fiery hell, if they do not wish to keep God’s law, just as these holy scriptures commanded them. This bishop must, who wishes to receive God’s mild-heartedness and forgiveness for his sins, press his mass-priests, with love and with grief, so that they hold God’s law in righteousness, and the household that they stand over, and the common people who they stand as aldermen over. They must not allow them to live a twisted life, and must themselves set a good example for their people. Therefore the good teacher said, when the mass-priest or bishop were led into eternal destruction, that they then may be no good to either themselves or to their flock, who they should have kept for God. Who does God admonish of his duty more than the bishop, since he is the disciple of God? And he will be equally holy to his apostles and of equal rank to his prophets, if he does not permit God’s people to live their lives in crookedness. So Saint Paul said, that Christ himself commanded Moses to speak to other teachers, if they could not convert this Christian people with love to hold God’s law in righteousness, then many wicked people would purchase it with their lives, and then those remaining would turn towards the true service of God.
So speaks the noble teacher, that the king and the bishop ought to be shepherds of the Christian people, and turn them away from all unrighteousness. And if one cannot convert them to virtue, so that they wish to abandon their crooked deeds, then each one must amend his crooked deeds in proportion to his guilts. The bishop and the mass-priest, if they wish to serve God in righteousness, then they must serve God’s people daily, or indeed sing masses every seven nights for all Christian people, who have been conceived since the start of middle-earth, and it be God’s desire that they should intercede for them. Then they receive from God’s abundant treasury than they make get from any other gifts, because his people are so dear to God. And those who are in heaven, they will intercede for those who attend these songs [of praise]. And they will be in the prayers of all earthly people who have been Christians, or will be yet. And they will never die in their sins, and the mildheartedness of God will be [stretched] over them, and of all of the holy [as well]. And God has allowed earthly people to bless all Christian folk, and frequently offer up divine gifts — therefore they are called God’s children, keeping company with the saints.
And this work will be of greatest injury to the devil, because they keep many souls in their possession that God wishes to be mercy towards for their mighty reverence, and for the prayers of earthly people and all the saints, and for his great mildheartedness. Says the holy teacher: “Nor must we cease, children of men, to delight God, and vex the devil by day and by night, and with the sign of Christ’s rood bless ourselves. Then the devil flies from us, as this is a greater terror to him than any person may be, though one may strike him with a sword to the head.” And all Christian people are commanded to bless their entire body every seven times [a day] with the sign of Christ’s rood. First in the early morning, the second time before noon, the third time at mid-day, the fourth time at nones, the fifth time in the evening, the sixth time at night before they sleep, [and] the seventh time before the break of day. Indeed he must commend himself to God.
And if these teachers do not wish to command this assiduously to God’s people, then they will be quite guilty against God, because God’s people ought to know how to shield themselves against the devil. And these teachers shall be worthy of judgment afterwards, if they do not wish to teacher the people to leave off from their sins, and keep God’s commandments. The bishop ought to order with great authority his mass-priests, if they would keep themselves from the wrath of God, then they [must] say to God’s people to seek God’s church on Sundays and on mass-days, and there hear willingly these godly precepts. Nor must these teachers neglect these lessons, nor should the people fail to humble themselves if they wish to have God’s forgiveness. Therefore where one speaks the Gospel, the people’s hearts will be stimulated, and God will be mild unto those people who with humble hearts have faith in him. Then the bishops and the mass-priests ought to urge those of each order [of society] eagerly and command them to keep God’s judgments in righteousness, and God’s servants [hold] their hours, and keep their church rightfully, and the unlearned [keep themselves] as rightfully befits them.
If one then wish not to heed them, then the mass-priest must punish it, as it is here commanded. If God’s servant does not wish to serve the church in rightfulness, let him receive with his laity the harshest punishment. And the mass-priest must obey this by necessity, or else partake of the sins of God’s servants. And he will be boiled like those angels who withsook against God of yore, and who were sunk into hell. Then spoke the noble teacher about those aforesaid that they can teach other men about this, and the bishop and the mass-priest will be then kept by the side of God. Moses received a shining glory-helm, because he always suppressed those who despised God. He who despises God’s command, he will be like a heathen, and many devils will inhabit him. Said Saint Paul, “Great will be the command of the apostolic order.” Because the Lord spoke to him whatsoever is bound on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever is loosed on earth, shall be free in heaven.
Then I instruct you all, my brothers, to give up your tenth share unto wretched people who here have little in the world. All the saints will rejoice over you, and God himself will be with you and with them, and you shall receive forgiveness for your sins. And what man soever does not wish to share the tenth part of his profits and fruits in God’s name, then he will not be given the Lord’s mildheartedness, nor forgiveness for his sins — yet he shall be smitten with torments after his death. And all his possessions will then be useless, and all of them will be seized by force then. And every person who may be skilled in any matter is so commanded, whether of greater wisdom or lesser. Then he [must] always give up the tenth share unto the Lord, on behalf of his earthly treasures and of the blossoming of life eternal.
Therefore always the Lord admonishes every person of what he gives to them here. And if we then happily and widely share that wealth with wretched people, what God once gave to us, then we will receive either earthly reward or heavenly. “Alas,” said the noble teacher, “you foolish men and unwise, why have you deprived yourselves of a twofold blessing, when you reject God’s commandments? Why did you not think that all is God’s? Alas, you grasping rich man, what should you do if the Lord took nine parts from you and let you have [only] the tenth part alone? Therefore it shall be lawful that one take the nine parts from these people, when he refuses God the tenth part.” It is written in Christ’s books that the Lord himself stated that the tenth part would be in our own authority, whether of land or of other things, or of other treasures, therefore always at the utmost day it all will turn to sorrow for those who refuse God. If we wish to share these things then blithely and magnanimously with wretched people, then God will loose for us fountains of heaven. And he will send us his blessings from above, and our wheat, and our vineyards and all our earthly fruits shall be blessed, if we do the right thing. And he will also shield us against every enemy. Lo, every person wishes God will give them all their needs, and he desires not to do his pleasure by giving part that he was given earlier in his name. Why can we not consider that the earth is God’s, and God’s is the nourishment by which we live, and we all are his [as well]? And in his control is everything in this middle-earth. And these winds and these rains are all his, those that rouse the earth’s blossoms, and by the sun’s heat that warms the earth, and all its creatures are his. And he shaped them all, and keeps them in his control. And our Lord is quite mindful of every gift that he has granted us. And at the utmost day we all must repay what he gave us before, and he will recompense us as we did here [on earth], whether good or evil.
Dearest people, why can we not imagine if we shall be at one moment in any misery where we fear for our lives, so that we ask for his favor then? And shall it be more precious to us than all the wealth of the earth, if he wishes to honor us and grant us mercy? Why can we not imagine what will be the torment, that has no ending nor beginning. “Then I shall admonish you with a divine voice,” said the noble teacher, “To liberate yourself from your sins before you are slain by death.” Because it now approaches our end-day. And it is quite unknown to us whether our heirs and executors will be true after our life, if we ourselves have earlier been neglectful, therefore there are few who are true to the dead. Therefore often it comes to pass that one’s possessions fall into the control of those who one gave the worst in life, sometimes by the power of one’s wife, sometimes by one’s husband. And then one will do nothing benefitting his soul, whether of their gold, or their silver, or of their earthly goods, if they did not wish to distribute the best part to God for their own sake, so long as one is here in life. When the soul of this person goes out of their body-home, which once was dearer to own than God’s love, then the adornments of gemstones shall not comfort the soul, nor anything of golden pride that ornamented his body once before with excess, and loved these earthly treasures more greatly that they did their ghost, or our Lord who made him. When all these earthly things become joyful to them, and the mighty speeches and over-drunkenness, the laughter and the disgraceful boastings, that he once adored, all become converted then into flowing tears, because he did not wish before to perceive looming death and the greatest of fears and the Doomsday to come.
“My brother,” said Saint Paul, “perceive now this adage: ‘Look at what may be seen as sweetest and dearest of your possessions in this world here, of those you must give back to God his share who gave it to you before.’ If you do not wish to do that, after your death it will be repaid to you in such bitterness.” Therefore that will be the very foolish and unwise person in their life, the one who loves their earthly wealth, and does not love the God who gave it all to them. The friendship of humans will be so temporary and so shameful, just like our ancestors died and very often turn away from us. Yet that one who obtains God’s friendship, need never wonder how they will be changed, but instead stands up into eternity. I speak to you the truth, whatsoever person who does not wish to love the Lord, and share their goods in his name, then the Lord shall seize them with great injury to them. And so many wretched people perish near to the rich and powerful, and they do not wish to give up the tenth part of their share, then they will be guilty of the death of every person, of every murder before the high throne of the Eternal Deemer, because they held earlier onto their possessions woefully and proudly, and refused the needy of the Lord.
That one who wishes to be covered in heavenly riches, they [must] render with righteousness always their tenth shares unto God, and share forth the [remaining] nine parts, and give to wretched people his leftovers and his old raiment. Then it shall be given back to them in the heavenly gold-hoard. And whatsoever God may give us [will be] more than we ought to enjoy necessarily, we should share always with the lesser. Nor does he give it to us so that we may hide it away or to give in boasting, or to those people who do not love God very much — yet we must give it to God’s church, and share with these wretched people. That is good then, both here in this world and in the one to come. This wealth, and this great pomp, and this sinful hunger, and that wickedness in denying the wretched — those things are all a great sin before God. Forsake now these deceiving goods, and illicit treasures, as the saints have done, who in this life sought nothing and yearned to have nothing, except to be brought in the heights of heaven all that they distributed on earth through the assistance of God. There is no possession forbidden to you then if you have acquired it rightfully, because it is very dear to God to give it to the wretched. And the enjoying of our possessions so that you are allowed to obtain these eternal riches, that are with the Lord and his saints, and with all who wish to keep his commandments and follow them. It shall be praise to the Lord, and a glory, and a peace, in the fullness of the world of worlds, always without end. Amen.
V. Dominica Quinta in Quadragesima (Fifth Sunday in Lent)
Here it says how that noble teacher was speaking. He said, “My dearest people, first it behooves us to hear the words of holy scripture and after that to pay up and render worthy fruits.” Now what use shall it be for those people unless they listen eagerly to the words of the holy gospel if they do not wish to keep and hold them inside the heart? If the root of these holy sayings be torn up from their heart and carried away? How can they keep and hold these ghostly fruits then, if they do not wish to commit themselves to God? And within the heart be mindful and consider how David the psalmist began to ponder and conceive what were the deeds and works of these good people. And therefore he spoke thus: “The man who speaks soothfastness with his mouth, and eagerly thinks them in his heart, and he follows them fully, beating down the spiteful words of his tongue. Those are the men who keep and hold belief in God’s kingdom, because they never wish to betray their neighbor with a deceiving word.”
It is the custom of many people to always speak to their neighbor the words that they believe would be the most lovely to hear, and nevertheless he ponders how he might be able to most easily betray them through the sweetness of their words. It is the devil’s custom to always betray the unwary person through the sweetness of their sins, and soon he wishes it were all repaid with grimness and with evil. There will be many people who hear the words of holy saying joyfully — yet quickly forget what they heard related and spoken after a bit with ears attentive and thoughts inward. They do not bear therefore ghostly fruits, nor do they keep them with them, because the holy seed has withered and departed within them, what had been proclaimed and spoken to them before from the mouth of their instructor. What’s more the hearing and the eagerness are of no use to those people, unbelieving and straying, as David the psalmist had spoken. There will be many people who, before others begin to do good somewhat, and quickly they forsake it. Because Christ himself said that he did not wish to heed the prayers of the straying and the negligent.
It is for nothing for people to eat good food and drink the best wine in conviviality, if it happens that they spewing it up forsake what they earlier took in bliss and its service to their body. So we then must not forsake spiritual teaching heedlessly, that our souls live and are sustained by. So the body cannot live without meat and drink, just as the soul, if she is not nourished spiritually by God’s word, will die of hunger and thirst. Therefore much more readily we must consider these ghostly things than the bodily. The body shall turn away from the things of this world, just as the soul shall live by spiritual things for eternity. She soon takes up her body at the utmost day, and with it shall be rightfully repaid for all her body’s deeds.
There will be many hard-hearted men who hear godly instruction, and someone often proclaims and tells it to them, and they then neglect those things. Then they will make no excuse upon that trembling Doomsday, yet they must fall into torment then with the devils. Therefore let us turn our minds from this love of this sin-lusting and gluttonous world, lest love for this world separate us from the love of eternal life and eternal light, with which God with his saints abides in heaven — and with all the souls that here turned righteously toward God, and who confessed their sins with clear hearts, and who bettered themselves for God. Look we know that all loveliness and fairness hurries away and hastens at the end of this worldly life, because the body elders and its fairness departs and turns soon into dust. So the beauty and the fairness of the soul, which dwells forever in the joys of heaven’s realm, and there rejoices and shines with Christ.
Therefore, my dearest people, I ask you and beseech you that each person examine themselves in their heart, with hearts silent, what the death-bound body shall become when the soul goes from it. And the fairness that it loved here in the world, like the blowing wood and the blowing worts. We know that Christ himself said with his own mouth, “When you all see all the earth’s plants growing and blowing, and those sweet odors of those plants emanate, then soon they will dry up and depart from the summer’s heat.” So then it is like the nature of humanity’s body when its youth first blows and is fairest, this beauty quickly fades and turns to age, and after then it is troubled with pain, with various afflictions and weaknesses. And all the body loathes to perform youthful desires, those that it once loved hot-heartedly, and which were sweet to suffer. They will all seem very bitter soon after death comes to them to pronounce God’s judgment. The body will then be turned to the harshest and foulest stench, and its eyes will be shut up then, and its mouth and nostrils will be locked up, and the dead body will then be uneasy to keep close to any people. Lo, where will be your idle pleasures, and the sweetness in scrogging that once it loved hot-heartedly? Where will be the feasting and the idleness and the immoderate laughter — the lying boasts and the idle words which it once let go unrighteously? All of it turns away just like the clouds and just like the watery stream, and it will reappear in no place.
Such will be the ending of the body’s fairness, which now foolish people and unwise love so much — therefore they never look round at how late they were conceived in this middle-earth, and how quickly they must depart from it. And in what pain they were born from their mothers, and in what toil they will soon live, and how this middle-earth each day falls and hurries towards its end. What is life in all this middle-earth but a little delay before death? The prolonged disease of the infirm is like the life of this middle-earth, when God does not wish to let them live in ease, yet not allow them to die, and they nevertheless suffer pain until death. Quite truly we can consider that it is a delay before death rather than life. Who is the person who can tally up all these pains and these troubles that humanity is created for? In sin they are increased and in their mother’s pain they are born. In hunger and in thirst and in the chill they are sustained. In struggle and sweat they abide. In weeping and in sorrow and pain their body must dwell here, and then the sinful ends their life in the living torment of hell fire.
Woe will be then for the people who do not perceive the miseries of this world to which they are shaped, and they do not wish to remember the day of their faring-forth nor the trembling Doomsday. Nor do they believe in that eternal glory of the heavenly kingdom, nor do they perceive that they were made at the start in God’s image and also for eternal life — not at all for eternal death. And they do not regard that the eternal door to heaven’s realm has been opened up for right-living and right-acting people, and also locked for the sinful and the unrighteous worker. And they never see that greedy hell is always open for devils and those people who now are living those precepts. Those are murderers and the false-sworn and those who consort now with other men’s wives and with those hallowed as brides to Christ after they have been covered with the holy veil. It is said that the same opponent who once taught them in sin will be allowed to torment them with many torments, unless they wish to better themselves.
Then spoke the noble teacher that they can with fastings, and with prayers, and with pouring tears overcome all the devil’s desires. In hell there will be thieves, and fighters, and greedy men who seize the property of others woefully, and the proud and the soothsayers who work with magic-craft and heresy, and by them incautious people are betrayed and seduced, and they are weaned from God’s mind with their tricks and error-craft. There will be there as well evil overseers who are woeful judges now, and who pervert the rightful judgments of soothfast people which were once set correctly. By those judges, Christ himself was speaking, and he said: “Judge now, just as you wish yourself to be judged in return at the utmost day of this world.” Certainly the evil judge receives a middling fee, and corrupts the rightful judgment for the love of money. it is said then that this one shall receive eternal condemnation among devils, because he once worked his desires in this middle-earth. And then he will dwell in eternal torment without ending, where he will have welling flame, and sometimes the cruelest chill. Every pain and hardship, hunger and thirst, wailing and crying, and a lamentation greater than the capacity of any human to tally. Nor will he need hope for light, nor for the friends who can ever release him from the control of these grim demons, because the struggle that he once waged against God, that he did not wish to believe in the teaching of God’s books.
Therefore, my dearest people, there is a great need to know that Judas is now tormented by devils in eternal punishment, because he sold Christ for love of money. So then now with him must burn those who hated their own souls for the love of money, who love unrightful treasure. They have the name of judges and the deeds of harmers — therefore they are among each other like slashing wolves when they for love of money condemn the faultless wretched. For them was ordained rightfully to [punish] always unrighteous deeds with the harshest penalties, the thieves and false-swearers and the adulterers, and those who practice error-crafts (who do not wish to give them up). Judges must punish these people harshly. That is not to say all judges are like that, because some quite strongly correct God’s people rather than ravish the wretched and unguilty. And they make their judgments with the fear of God, and with his saints, much more eagerly than for the love of money. And they shield the unguilty and judge the guilty severely. Those judges will be more deserving of praise than blame, because they desire to steer the unbelieving who now heedlessly and neglectfully hear God. Those judges will be in God’s comfort everywhere, either those who guard themselves from their sins or else who correct the sinning. Therefore on Doomsday, they will be hearing God’s words that he spoke, “You good and trustworthy servants, go now into the eternal reward of heavenly majesty, which you before have earned with belief in me and in my saints, and with right understanding.” Then each of us must carry his deeds before Christ’s lofty throne and all his saints, and then we must repay rightfully for all of the deeds of our lives which we worked earlier in this world. Therefore we must ward ourselves from these great sins, so that we can improve the middling ones the more easily.
Many people believe that murder would be the worst sin, yet it is for us to know that there are three kinds of murder. The first is when one keeps hatred for another, and despises him, and slanders him behind his back. Therefore this sin is much greater when one hates and slanders another. It is said that it is the root of all other sins. So seldom any person wishes to confess to being envious or a backstabber. The one who kills another and right away understands himself to have done a great wickedness and a great sin — many men then turn often to amends and confession, and seek forgiveness at the hand of our Lord. Therefore there is no doubt that he wishes to give forgiveness to those who want to earn it. Certainly the envious and the backstabbers, though they may be guilty of murder, do not believe themselves sinners. The envious, though they guilty of death, do not understand their sin, because they never seek forgiveness from God. The death-bearing evil is to be shunned by us all, lest they sink us to the bottom of hell. Surely the glory of this middle-earth is short and transitory, yet the Lord’s glory and his realm endures into eternity. There is that eternal light without shadow. There is the youth without age. There is noble life without end. There is joy without sorrow. There is no hunger or thirst, or wind or storm or crash of water. Nor is there a separation from loved ones, nor reunion with the hated — yet there is eternal rest, and saintly feasting endures there. There is the ineffable kingdom, where God grants everything to those who wish to love him. Let us love him then with all our heart’s earnest, then he will love us in heaven with all his saints. Always to the width of life will be our praise of the Lord, and glory, and honor, without end, into eternity. Amen.
VI. Dominica Sexta in Quadragesima (Sixth Sunday in Lent. Palm Sunday)
Here it is said, dearest people, about the honor of the holy season, how the mildhearted Lord and the Redeemer of this mortal kindred abased himself to descend from the heights of fatherly majesty unto the earth. By this he wished to suffer for all humanity’s health and liberate us from the devil’s servitude, and manifest his power and his desire. And how, with mind unfearful, he approached the place where he wished to suffer for our deliverance and the humiliation of the devil. On this day, Our Lord Savior was praised and celebrated by the Jewish people, because they understood that he was Christ the Savior by that glorious deed when he awoke Lazarus from death upon the fourth day, after he was buried. Then they carried [Jesus] towards blowing palm-fronds, as was the Jewish tradition, when their kings were victorious over their enemies and they were turned back home, and then they went to meet them with waving palm-fronds in honor of their victory. It suited the Lord well to do so in this likeness, because he was the King of Glory.
This day they named Victory-Day [pun on “sigel” (sun)]. The name betokens the victory when the Lord triumphant resisted the devil, when he with his death vanquished eternal death, as he spoke himself through the prophet, saying, “Alas death, I will be your death and your bite in hell.” The Lord made a great bite in hell when he descended down there, and pillaged hell, and led the holy souls away, and he saved them from the devil’s authority those who from the start of middle-earth had been collected in that place in servitude. He led them back from the depths of hell into the high majesty of heaven’s realm.
John, the beloved thegn, revealed to us in his gospel and spoke thus, “The Savior arrived six days before Jewish Easter to Bethany where Lazarus had fared-forth, and he woke him from death.” Martha his sister then readied supper for the Savior. And her sister sat by the Savior’s feet, whose name was Mary, because she wished to hear his words and his teachings. Martha was anxious to serve the pleasure of the Savior. She stood before him and said to him, “Why don’t you remind my sister that I labor alone? Tell her to aid me.” The Savior answered her then and said, “Martha, Martha, be cautious and mind Mary’s affairs, that is, that you at every moment must perform God’s pleasure, that alone is best for you, pleasing to God. Mary has chosen the best part, which shall never be taken from her.” Lazarus was there alone sitting with the Savior, with his thegns. Mary took a pound of valuable ointment and anointed the feet of the Savior, and dried them with her hair. Then the entire house was filled with the lovely scent of the precious ointment.
A certain thegn of the Savior was very angry, he was called Judas the Iscariot, because he came from the town called Scariot. He said, “Why must this ointment be wasted thus? Easily it could have been sold for three hundred pennies and that sum given out to wretched people.” Nor did he say this because any concern for needful people was his, but he was covetous and the worst harmer. Why then did the apostles allow him to bear their wallet? Because they wished to test his greediness. He was also the worst grasper who sold with money the Lord of heaven and all middle-earth. The Savior answered him then and said, “Why are you so heavy about this deed? A good work she performed for me. Always you will have the poor if you wish to do good, but you will not always have me. Yet let this be witness to my burial. The truth is what I say to you, that this gospel must be said and proclaimed throughout all middle-earth, because this was done in my memory.”
The Jewish people who knew that the Savior had come to the home of Lazarus, it was not for his love, but for eager curiosity of that miracle, and they wished to Lazarus who he had been awakened from death before. Then was fulfilled what had earlier been stated, “These people worthy me with words and yet their hearts are far from me.” The alderman and the counsellors intended to kill Lazarus, for many people believed in the Savior when he wakened him from death. Then a great many came to that place in the morning for the feast day. The Savior then went from that place to Jerusalem and when they saw him they took blowing palm-branches, and bore them towards him, and bowed down before him and worthied him as suits a king. And when he approached Jerusalem, he came first to Bethphage the town near Mount Olivet. The Savior then said to his two thegns, to Peter and John, “Go now into the town that stands near you both. Then you will meet tied there a she-ass and her foal. Untie them and lead them here to me. And if someone denies you, say that the Lord has need of them, and quickly they will release them to me.” This happened so that the prophecy was fulfilled, which was earlier spoken: “Say to the daughters of Zion that their king comes, mild and humble, and he is sitting upon a she-ass, with the foal of the beast.”
Then his thegns did as he told. They led him to the she-ass and made it so he could sit there. All the people who went before strewed their garments before him. Some took the branches of that [palm-]tree and strewed it along his path. The multitude who went before him and those who followed after called out and said, “Savior, Son of David, you are blessed in the name of the Lord, heal us in [your] highness.” When the Savior went then into the city, all the town was elated and the townsfolk called out and said, “Who is this mighty one who so magnificently comes?’ The people answered them and said, “It is the Nazarene prophet from Galilee, who must be praised across all nations and honored as well by the mouths of milk-slurping children.” He who entered into the holy temple of Solomon and cast out the workbenches of merchants and the seats of money-changers, and spoke, “My house must be known as a house of prayer, but you have made it into a den of thieves!” Then the blind and lame went to him and he healed them at once. All this happened so that we must recognize the miracles of our Lord, and revere him with great love.
The evangelist said the Savior came to Bethany six days before Easter. This signifies that he arrived in the sixth age in this middle-earth to redeem humankind. Our Lord did not abandon this middle-earth without teachers any longer than two hundred years, but he sent patriarchs and prophets who would speak of his coming. So he then for the six days before his suffering revealed manifold works every day. First on Saturday he woke Lazarus from death. And on the Lordly Sunday, as it is now, he was perceived as king and praised, and recognized and honored by the mouths of children. And on the day after he cursed the fig-tree where no fruit was found. That betokened the sinful who do not have the fruit of good works. On the third day he said to his thegns, “Now in two days the son of man will be given unto sinful hands.” On the fourth day, he was in Simon the leper’s house, wherein that man’s wife anointed his head with precious ointments. On the fifth day, he washed his thegns’ feet and sat among them at the evening meal, and gave to them his body for bread and his blood for wine. And on the sixth day, the Jews hung him on the cross where his blood spurted out for our salvation, and released us from the devil’s servitude.
Said the evangelist, Martha and Mary betoken this loaned and departing life. Martha received Christ in her house so that she could serve him. What does she symbolize except the holy church, where are faithful people who have prepared a clean habitation for CHrist himself in their hearts. He said, “I dwell within them, and I will be their god into eternity.” About that the apostle says, “The Almighty God seeks clean hearts to abide within, so God’s temple cannot be besmirched, yet the man of God must be perfect in righteous deeds.” The writer says that Mary took a pound of precious ointment and smeared the Savior’s feet with it, and dried them with her hair. Then was that house filled with a sweet odor. This ointment was made from eighteen kinds of herbs. The three best of these were olive, nard, and spike, which is brown in color and has a goodly aroma, and what is smeared with them never corrupts. This was done as a life example to us, and if we now wish to smear our souls with the oil of mildheartedness, then we can bring the uncorrupted fruits and good works to the Lord. Let us remember always that do these good things that God’s books teach us — that is fastings and holy vigils and almsgivings according to our means. And by many other ghostly powers we can deserve the sweet stench of goodly works that we bring unto our Lord. That Mary, who sat beside the Savior’s feet so that she would hear his words and his teaching, she betokens those holy churches in the world to come, which are delivered from all struggles. And she alone will be in view of heavenly majesty, and she will rest in the face of our Lord, praising him unstintingly. St. John the Evangelist revealed what he heard hordes of angels singing of the praises to God, and spoke thus, “Worthy you are, Lord God, to take up glory and honor and power and blessings and the thankworthy deeds of all your creatures that you shaped, in the heavens and on earth, according to your desire.” Lazarus, who Christ woke on the fourth day after he was abiding in burial, he betokens this middle-earth, that was lying there in the most grievous corruption filled with sin and wickedness. Just as that heavy burden of the grave and of death sits upon the lifeless body, and the stones and earth crush them under. So sat at that moment the intolerable burden of sin upon everyone of this mortal kindred [of our Lord and savior Christ].
Now we ought to imitate Mary who smeared the feet of the Savior, and dried them with her hair. That is, that we must perform good works and life rightfully. Then we will follow in the Lord’s traces, that is if we teach others well, and they by our teachings life righteously for God. Then we bring to the Lord a sweet stench by our deeds and precepts. So St Paul the apostle said, “The Lord’s feet we ought to anoint if we wish to do well to other believers and help the wretched, as best one can, and always be compassionate for another’s miseries — likewise greatly rejoice in another’s good.” The Evangelist said that Judas became quite angry because of the ointment. He said that it would be of more usefulness to sell it for three hundred pence, and then share that with needful people. Judas had the likeness of those people who wish to wrong God’s church and plunder her. Yet nevertheless he who was the teacher, and the example of soothfastness, and the king of cleanness, allowed this impious thief to remain with him. And by this example, he revealed that truthful people have thieves among them and sinful men, and yet they must patiently abide their evil themselves.
Christ established an example for us of patience. Nor said he ever to Judas, “This you speak out of your greed and your theft.” Yet he did say, “Let this be thus, she has done a good work for me.” With these words he revealed that he wished to be dying. He said, “You will always have the needy, but you will not always have me.” Nor will the holy church ever be without the poor. These singular men have Christ in their hearts, who will be taken into eternal life. Christ himself said, “You will always have me present among faithful people by the glory of my divinity. Yet the hidden presence has never turned from us. Many people keep him by holy baptism, and by rightful belief in Christ’s sacrifice that we received at the altar. Yet these people who live in error, they do not ever keep Christ in their hearts, yet they make ready a dwelling for devils and eternal torment for themselves.
Said the Evangelist, “The elders among these priests thought to slay Lazarus.” And these wicked ones did not wish to think that the Lord could wake him up again, as he had done before, raising him from the soul’s death by his majesty. Matthew the Evangelist said, “When the Savior wished to approach Jerusalem, then he came unto Bethphage.” This was quite fitting when he came to earth from heaven, so that he wished to suffer on behalf of the kindred of men, and draw near the time of humanity’s redemption. Bethphage, the town, betokens the holy church in which the holy mysteries are sung, and where people confess their sins and ask for their forgiveness. We have heard earlier that the Savior sent his two thegns — these symbolize holy teachers who must endure in rightful belief and in perfect deeds, and they must teach love of God and of other humans. Without these two loves no one can come to eternal life. He said, “Go into that place that stands before you both.” Why did the Lord name that kingly city with a contemptuous name? Because often villages are in many places set in an indifferent place. The city then was lofty and lordly — yet Christ contemptuously named both the mighty city and holy Jerusalem because its citizens were [contemptuous] to him, because of their disbelief and wicked deeds, and were so awful and reprobate. And also he knew of their punishment to come — and that the city must be broken and stripped bare, as he said to his apostles, when they spoke to Christ about the glory and beauty of its temples and the city. They said that these were a majestic and lovely work. The Lord answered them then and said, “Look, you now see all the fairness of this construction. It is the truth I speak to you, that it will soon be due to these people’s sins and wicked deeds, that all these buildings will be cast down. And here no stone will be allowed [to stand] upon stone, that all will be stripped from each other.”
Just as it occurred later forty winters after they hanged Christ and the Rood, and for humanity’s salvation his body suffered death. Always he waited, through his great patience, so that they in forty winters would change, or that they would repent or perform any penance for the great evil and wickedness they done against the Lord, and also against many of his saints. When he saw that they did not wish to do any repentance or remedy, yet continued in their evil ways, the Lord sent then a greater vengeance upon them than had ever befallen any other, excepting the dwellers of Sodom alone. That was when Titus arrived with a Roman army, and he took vengeance upon those who had hanged their king upon the Rood. The people fled when they learned that the army was headed for the city of Jerusalem. Titus the caesar then surrounded the city with his army, and dwelt a long time there until those within the city were slain with hunger. And they out of starvation could not defend that city. Yet the caesar destroyed them then, and slaughtered the greatest part of the people. All of those people who were slain there and killed by hunger, both women and men reached eleven hundred thousand in number. And then they next seized a hundred thousand of the people who remained, who they best liked, and led them into captivity. And eighteen hundred thousand they sent away and sold for money into distant lands. All the people who the caesar captured in Jerusalem were thirty hundred thousand. And from the vengeance of God he destroyed all that and occupied that land, as the Romans wished to do.
That punishment was as harsh as God’s patience had been before. The Lord said to his thegns, “Yet you will encounter a bound donkey and her foal. Lead it to me.” What betokens that donkey that Christ the Lord wished to sit upon, except faithful Jewish people as well as many others who were subjected to God’s desires, and of those worthy to carry heaven’s king in their hearts. He will direct them to all good things, and he will conduct them into a vision of peace. Therefore the name of that city which is called Jerusalem is accounted “the vision of peace,: because blessed souls rest there. He said that his thegns do as he commanded. Surely that betokens that these scholars must neither take away from or add to God’s laws, except as God themself established for them. Those scholars must trouble their own bodies in abstinence, and set an example of God’s life for those who follow after them, and make ready the Lord’s path for their spirits. What betokens the multitude who went before [the Lord] there, except the Jewish people? Among them was the blessed crowd of patriarchs and prophets, those who Christ’s advent knew about and foretold, and the miracles that he wrought, and his suffering, and his rising, and his ascent. They all proclaimed and pronounced in one voice, “The Savior, the son of David, you are blessed, you who come in the name of the Lord — redeem us unto the highest!” even as they plainly spoke, “Redeem us on earth, you who holds divine power in heaven!” Likewise it is for us to understand that they said, “Redeem us on earth, we who are living in body, and also those who are in hell beseech your release and your salvation, and have done so ever since the start of middle-earth.” It was suitable that these earlier and later peoples should say, “You are blessed, you who come in the name of the Lord,” because there was one creed, a singular hope in the Holy Trinity before Christ’s advent. And afterwards we sing rightfully in his praise, “Redeem us unto the highest.” All that dispensation was realized in that true incarnation for the repletion of the heavenly homeland. Those saints before Christ’s coming believed in him, and loved him, and spoke of his arrival. And with his suffering they were released from hellish torments, and redeemed with his resurrection. Then we are those who follow after, and we know that came to be. Therefore we must believe in him and love him, and also know that he is coming to judge [us] and to end this world. Now we have great needfulness to be found prepared. We know full readily that we must earn in this short time an eternal rest, when we are allowed to rejoice in angelic bliss with our Lord, where he resides and rules without ending, into perpetuity. Amen.