Thoughts from the Early Church

Commentary by Nilus of Ancyra

Your endurance will win you your life.

In time of trial it is of great profit to us patiently to endure for God’s sake, for the Lord says: “By patient endurance you will win life for yourselves.”

He did not say by your fasting, or your solitude and silence, or your singing of psalms, although all of these are helpful in saving your soul.

But he said: “By patient endurance” in every trial that overtakes you, and in every affliction, whether this be insolent and contemptuous treatment, or any kind of disgrace, either small or great; whether it be bodily weakness, or the belligerent attacks of Satan, or any trial whatsoever caused either by other people or by evil spirits.
“By patient endurance you will win life for yourselves,” although to this must be added wholehearted thanksgiving, and prayer, and humility. For you must be ready to bless and praise your benefactor, God the Savior of the world, who disposes all things, good or otherwise, for your benefit.
The apostle writes: “With patient endurance we run the race of faith set before us.” For what has more power than virtue? What has more firmness or strength than patient endurance? Endurance, that is, for God’s sake.

This is the queen of virtues, the foundation of virtue, a haven of tranquility. It is peace in time of war, calm in rough waters, safety amidst treachery and danger. It makes those who practice it stronger than steel.

No weapons or brandished bows, no turbulent troops or advancing siege engines, no flying spears or arrows can shake it.

Not even the host of evil spirits, not the dark array of hostile powers, nor the devil himself standing by with all his armies and devices will have power to injure the man or woman who has acquired this virtue through Christ.

(Letters 111, 35: PG 79, 401-404)

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was born in London and brought up in the Church of England. He went up to Trinity College, Oxford in 1817, became a Fellow of Oriel five years later, was ordained deacon in 1824 and appointed Vicar of Saint Mary’s, Oxford, in 1832.

The impact of his sermons was tremendous. He was the leading spirit in the Tractarian Movement (1833-1841) and the condemnation of “Tract 90” led to his resignation from Saint Mary’s in 1843. Two years later he was received into the Catholic Church

He was ordained in Rome and founded a house of Oratorians in Birmingham. Newman’s Essay on the Development Christian Doctrine throws light on his withdrawal of previous objections to Roman Catholicism; his Apologia reveals the deepest motives underlying his outward attitudes, and the Grammar of Assent clarifies the subjective content of commitment to faith.

In 1879 he was made a cardinal and he died at Edgbaston in 1890.


**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson