C.S. Lewis wrote a wonderful essay called “On the Reading of Old Books” that I absolutely love. Some seem to get the notion that Christianity hibernated between the ascension of Christ and the birth of Billy Graham. Not so!
During some time off this summer I’ve been blessed by The Book of Pastoral Rule by Gregory the Great and Selected Works by Bernard of Clairvaux. I recommend them both and hope you’ll be blessed by reading old books.
Here are some quotes to whet your appetite:
“For it is very often the case that the discipline of good works, which was maintained in a time of tranquility, is ruined in the assumption of leadership. For an inexperienced sailor can steer a ship in calm waters, but even an experienced seaman is disordered by a storm. For what, indeed, is a position of spiritual authority but a mental tempest in which the ship of the heart is constantly shaken by storms of thoughts, tossed back and forth, until it is shattered by a sudden excess of words like hidden rocks of the sea?” (Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, p. 42)
“For when we minister what is necessary to the indigent, we bestow not what is ours, but what rightly belongs to them.” (Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, p. 146)
“For surely, whoever seeks his own glory while speaking the word of God invades the rights of the Giver, and does not fear to promote himself over the One from whom he has received that thing that is praised.” (Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, p. 159)
“If you see your neighbor’s failing and not your own you will be moved not to mercy but to indignation, not to help him but to judge him, not to instruct him in a spirit of gentleness but to destroy him in a spirit of anger.” (Bernard)