Wednesday, April 4, 2012

God-Honoring Building Projects

A person who attends to himself truly adorns his own dwelling so that when God abides there, he has various kinds of material which contribute to this building.  I know that gold shines in such works when unearthed by insights from scripture and that purified silver represents divine eloquence whose splendor shines forth through the truth.  The splendor of the various stones adorning this temple's walls and pavement are the virtues, a true image of the beauty adorning this house.  Let self-control lay down the pavement since it does not allow the building's inhabitant to be troubled by the dust of earthly mindedness.  Let the hope for heaven adorn the roof.  The soul's eye does not gaze upon images fashioned by chisels; rather, it will see the archetypal beauty adorned with something of greater value than gold and silver.

If we must describe the masonry, then let incorruptibility and impassibility mold the house which justice and freedom will adorn.  Let humility and patience shine in another part of the house along with piety befitting God.  Let love, the noble craftsman, fashion all these virtues in a marvelous way.  If you desire baths in your house for cleansing the stains of your soul, you can use that bath which the great David delighted in each night [Psalm 6].  Let the columns supporting the soul's courtyard not be of marble or porphyry but stability in every good which is far more precious.  This house forbids statues and pictures which are deceptive imitations of truth because it already has an abundance of images of the truth.  If you desire a place in which to walk about, you have the commandments.  Wisdom says, "I walk in the ways of righteousness and am conversant with the paths of judgment" [Prov 8:20].  How lovely it is when such [adornments] arouse the soul to carefully examine the commandments, to be trained in them, and make us return to the place from which we started!

Gregory of Nyssa, Third Homily on Ecclesiastes

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