Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Book of the Three Dwelling-Places, Chapter 3

Book of the Three Dwelling-Places
By Saint Patrick

Chapter Three.
About those whose love of the world is not deterred by the eternal punishments. The double punishment of Hell. 100 years is no part of eternity.

Therefore, woe to those who deserve to enter under all these unceasing evils, without end, because of one sweet hour of sleep! For truly, all the glory of this world is but a dream, compared to eternal glory. It is better for those people to not have been born, as is said of unhappy Judas (Matthew 26:24), than to suffer the evil afflictions of Hell, due to their merits. What is more foolish, what is more absurd and childish than being ensnared and overcome by the shadow and image and likeness of true glory, instead of seeking and desiring true delight, true beauty, true elegance, true honor? Who would prefer to neglect his own gold, in favor of chasing after a twinkle of gold in water? Wouldn't that man be easily convinced by foolish and silly things? Or who, seeing a copy of the sun, would esteem the shape and materials of the copy more than the sun itself? Wouldn't that man be mocked by everyone? Thus there is laughing, which is lower than crying, at whoever esteems the fragile things of this world, which are prone to fall. This man prizes the useless love of flesh, he seeks it and he strives after it, contemptuous of eternal glory and ignoring the ineffable joys of the kingdom of heaven. This is the business of exceedingly stupid men, of pitiable men, of men who do not possess healthy hearts, even if they have not sought the misfortunes of Hell, which cannot be spoken of or imagined.

Truly, this is a double misfortune: to be apart from the Kingdom of God and to always be in Hell, that is, with the devil; to miss the presence of the angels and to always suffer the terrible presence of demons: no one can adequately describe how much this should be shunned, avoided and feared.

Who, being of sound mind, would choose a hundred years of punishment for the delights of one day? But nevertheless, the pitiable men without any wisdom, following the love of flesh, do no avoid or escape intolerable punishments. These punishments do not last for a hundred years, nor for a thousand years, not even for a thousand times a thousand years, but for all ages without end, and yet people willingly accept these punishments, for the sake of the delights of forty or sixty years, or whatever perishable delight they choose. How much difference is there between one day and hundred years? Obviously, it is less than the difference between eternity and forty or sixty or a hundred years, whether the future is in good places or in bad. For one day is just another part in the space of a hundred years, an exceedingly tiny measure: and truly the space of a hundred years is no part in that eternity. For, to speak freely, if a hundred or a thousand years were part of eternity, we could talk about the extent of eternity, in terms of how many hundredfold or thousandfold years it is. It would then cease to be eternity, because reason does not set an end to eternity, which, if it could be limited by any time or measure, would not be eternity at all.


Textual variants:

Two mss have voluntatem in place of voluptatem, in the sentence which reads "But nevertheless, the pitiable men without any wisdom, following the love of flesh, do no avoid or escape intolerable punishments". If you use voluntatem, the phrase reads "following the will of the flesh"; if you use voluptatem, the phrase reads "following the love of the flesh".

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