IV Lent Thursday

The Beginning of Wisdom 

The Lenten Readings from Proverbs 

Lent IV Thursday – Proverbs 13:19 – 14:6

You can listen to an audio podcast of this post at https://www.spreaker.com/episode/thursday-of-the-fourth-week-of-great-lent–59418198

My son: The desires of the godly gladden the soul, but the works of the ungodly are far from knowledge. 20 If thou walkest with wise men thou shalt be wise: but he that walks with fools shall be known. 21 Evil shall pursue sinners; but good shall overtake the righteous. 22 A good man shall inherit children’s children; and the wealth of ungodly men is laid up for the just. 23 The righteous shall spend many years in wealth: but the unrighteous shall perish suddenly. 24 He that spares the rod hates his son: but he that loves, carefully chastens him. 25 A just man eats and satisfies his soul: but the souls of the ungodly are in want. 14:1 Wise women build houses: but a foolish one digs hers down with her hands. 2 He that walks uprightly fears the Lord; but he that is perverse in his ways shall be dishonoured. 3 Out of the mouth of fools comes a rod of pride; but the lips of the wise preserve them. 4 Where no oxen are, the cribs are clean; but where there is abundant produce, the strength of the ox is apparent. 5 A faithful witness does not lie; but an unjust witness kindles falsehoods. 6 Thou shalt seek wisdom with bad men, and shalt not find it; but discretion is easily available with the prudent. 

“He that spares the rod hates his son:  but he that loves, carefully chastens him.”   The Apostle echoes this wise thought in Hebrews 12:8:   “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”   It was predictable, having in the 1950s given up prudent chastisement in favor of the Dr. Spock philosophy of raising children by spoiling them, that by today in the 2020s the same society thinks there is nothing unusual about siring multiple bastards and allowing them to live like mindless beasts.  The two degenerate practices go hand in hand; they both spring from a blind intellect and a corrupted will.  

For a starting point in learning how to rear children, every Orthodox parent should read a little volume called Raising Them Right, which reproduces the earlier sections of The Path to Salvation by St. Theophan the Recluse, that are concerned with infancy, childhood, and adolescence.    Father and mother need to study it together, agree on the principles enunciated, and support one another in taking action.    The Lord will reward you in this life with pious and happy children, and in the next life with the crown of victory given those who do the will of God.  

In the passage from Hebrews, of course, the Apostle was using the image of good parents’ chastisement of their children to encourage the faithful to accept sorrows and persecutions as God’s good parenting towards their souls.  St. Augustine, in commenting on the verse from Proverbs, contrasts the eager soul, thirsting for union with God, with the inattentive soul that needs to suffer more in order to be recalled to the awareness of its need for repentance:  

“He that spares the rod hates his son.”  For, give us a person who with right faith and true understanding can say with all the energy of his heart, “My soul thirsted for God, the mighty, the living; when shall I come, and appear before the face of God (Ps. 41) ?”.  For such a person there is no need for the terror of hell, to say nothing of temporal punishments or imperial laws, seeing that with him it is so indispensable a blessing to cleave to the Lord that he not only dreads being parted from that happiness as a heavy punishment but can scarcely even bear delay in its attainment.   But yet, before the good sons can say they have “a desire to depart, and to be with Christ (Philippians 1: 23),” many must first be recalled to their Lord by the stripes of temporal scourging, like evil servants, and in some degree like good-for-nothing-fugitives. – The Correction of the Donatists 6:21

Let us pray for the grace to receive all temporal sorrows as loving reminders from our merciful Father, to love Him alone and seek Him alone, because He alone is worthy of all love.    Then our sorrows will be turned to joy, and we will by His grace attain a firm hope in our salvation. 

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