On Immortality – An Advent Meditation by St. Cyprian


Our obligation is to do God’s will, and not our own. We must remember this if the prayer that our Lord commanded us to say daily is to have any meaning on our lips. How unreasonable it is to pray that God’s will be done, and then not promptly obey it when he calls us from this world! Instead we struggle and resist like self-willed slaves and are brought into the Lord’s presence with sorrow and lamentation, not freely consenting to our departure, but constrained by necessity. And yet we expect to be rewarded with heavenly honours by him to whom we come against our will! Why then do we pray for the kingdom of heaven to come if this earthly bondage pleases us? What is the point of praying so often for its early arrival if we would rather serve the devil here than reign with Christ.

The world hates Christians, so why give your love to it instead of following Christ, who loves you and has redeemed you? John is most urgent in his epistle when he tells us not to love the world by yielding to sensual desires. Never give your love to the world, he warns, or to anything in it. A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time. All that the world offers is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and earthly ambition. The world and its allurements will pass away, but the man who has done the will of God shall live for ever. Our part, my dear brothers, is to be single-minded, firm in faith, and steadfast in courage, ready for God’s will, whatever it may be. Banish the fear of death and think of the eternal life that follows it. That will show people that we really live our faith.

We ought never to forget, beloved, that we have renounced the world. We are living here now as aliens and only for a time. When the day of our homecoming puts an end to our exile, frees us from the bonds of the world, and restores us to paradise and to a kingdom, we should welcome it. What man, stationed in a foreign land, would not want to return to his own country as soon as possible? Well, we look upon paradise as our country, and a great crowd of our loved ones awaits us there, a countless throng of parents, brothers and children longs for us to join them. Assured though they are of their own salvation, they are still concerned about ours. What joy both for them and for us to see one another and embrace! O the delight of that heavenly kingdom where there is no fear of death! O the supreme and endless bliss of everlasting life!

There, is the glorious band of apostles, there the exultant assembly of prophets, there the innumerable host of martyrs, crowned for their glorious victory in combat and in death. There in triumph are the virgins who subdued their passions by the strength of continence. There the merciful are rewarded, those who fulfilled the demands of justice by providing for the poor. In obedience to the Lord’s command, they turned their earthly patrimony into heavenly treasure.

My dear brothers, let all our longing be to join them as soon as we may. May God see our desire, may Christ see this resolve that springs from faith, for he will give the rewards of his love more abundantly to those who have longed for him more fervently.




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10 Responses to On Immortality – An Advent Meditation by St. Cyprian

  1. Michael says:

    A complementary reflection from today’s reading at ‘Daily Gospel’ by Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross:

    “Thy will be done.” In all its fullness, this act of abandonment must be the rule of Christian life. It must rule over the day, from morning to night, over the course of the year, over all of life. This must be the Christian’s only concern; all the others are taken care of by the Lord, but this one remains ours until our last day. That is an objective fact. We are not definitively assured of always remaining on the Lord’s path… During our spiritual childhood, when we have just begun to let ourselves be led by God, we feel his strong and firm hand guiding us. We see in an obvious way what we must do and what we must not do. But it will not always be like that. The person who belongs to Christ must live Christ’s whole life. That person must ripen to the point of attaining Christ’s adult age, and one day must start out on the way of the cross… Thus united with Christ, the Christian will persevere even in the dark night… That is why, even and precisely in the midst of the darkest night, “thy will be done.”


  2. toad says:

    “All that the world offers is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and earthly ambition. “
    Negative and pernicious nonsense. The world offers beauty, music, art, brotherly love, generosity, compassion, and decency – for starters.
    If only we care to seek them out.

  3. GC says:

    mmmmmm . . . depends on what you mean by “world”?

    But this would appear to be directly from Sacred Scripture, that is to say it’s an English translation of 1 John 2:16 in the Latin tongue, as found in the particular African Old Latin (i.e. pre-Jerome) bible translation that St Cyprian used over there in Carthage in the first half of the AD200s.

    Toad might not have realised that it’s Scripture when Toad called it “negative and pernicious nonsense”. But I could be wrong.

  4. GC says:

    St Cyprian is of course being entirely faithful to the teachings of his Divine Master:

    John 15:18-21

    “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master’. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

    And there’s plenty more where that came from.

    Actually, this all came quite true in St Cyprian’s own life and martyrdom.

    I see St James would have agreed.

    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

    That is exactly what St Cyprian tried to do.

    And this?

    You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

    Does anyone know if that is the same St James as the one named in the “Way of St James” in Spain, where Toad always takes his pooches for walkies each morning? Or is that the other St James?

  5. toad says:

    The Saint James here has two “identities,” if you like. One is Matamoros, the Muslim slayer, and the other is a peaceful pilgrim with a staff and a shell.
    He came to Spain dead, in a stone boat, and is buried in the cathedral in the eponymous city.
    People hug his statue.

    “Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
    How does this sentiment square with “God so loved the world, that He sent his only son, etc.”?

    I don’t think the world is awful – only the humans in it. And a world where everyone shared the same belief, Atheist, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, – anything – would be Very Hell.

  6. GC says:

    “Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
    How does this sentiment square with “God so loved the world, that He sent his only son, etc.”?

    Indeed, Toad. And there’s John 3:17 too:

    Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

    Which is why perhaps a more “nuanced” understanding of the different ways the word “world” is used in the Scriptures is called for.

  7. kathleen says:

    GC @ 16:47 yesterday

    Does anyone know if that is the same St James as the one named in the “Way of St James” in Spain..

    No, GC, apparently it is not the same St James as the writer of the Epistle!
    This one is the Apostle, St James the Less, kinsman of Our Lord and first Bishop of Jerusalem. Whereas the other St James Apostle, St James the Greater, patron saint of Spain, is the one whose remains are in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and whose name is given to the famous pilgrimage route…( and where Toad takes his “pooches for walkies”). 🙂

  8. GC says:

    kathleen, ahso!

    So Spain’s James is the brother of John the Beloved. The sons of thunder!

    Thanks for clearing that up, kathleen. 😳

    He was the first of the apostles to be executed, by Herod Agrippa, in AD 44. Barely had a chance then, in fact no chance to quill an epistle and then retire to Spain.

  9. Robert says:

    Better to look through the eyes of Faith, spiritual eyes from Eternity this is where God’s Love of this world makes sense. What was Created before Sin (Fall of Adam and Eve) and will be restored (Christ restores all things). Top of the list is Free Will where Man can choose His Eternity Heaven or Hell.
    If you see the world through Naturalism (covers materialism etc..) which is just the bodies senses (it should be obvious that the spirit has senses) then in that sense you are a friend of a FALLEN world. If you see through your eyes of Faith (spiritual) then you will live in this Fallen world BUT not be part of it, rather you will Love it through God’s eyes of Charity and Compassion.
    The Greater Love of this world is to see its sad Fallen State and Love with Compassion as God Loves this enlivens the soul and is the Way of the Cross to Heaven
    The worst Love of this world is like a Pig to wallow in the body senses this kills the Soul and is the road to Hell,

  10. toad says:

    “Top of the list is Free Will where Man can choose His Eternity Heaven or Hell.”
    Put Toad down for Heaven. He doesn’t want to spend eternity with his trousers on fire.

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