Laniata

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Quibus ergo vos laudibus praedicem, fortissimi fratres? robur pectoris vestri et perseverantiam fidei quo praeconio vocis exornem? tolerastis usque ad consummationem gloriae durissimam quaestionem, nec cessistis suppliciis, sed vobis potius supplicia cesserunt. finem doloribus quem tormenta non dabant coronae dederunt. laniena gravior ad hoc diu perseveravit, non ut stantem fidem deiceret, sed ut homines Dei ad Dominum velocius mitteret. vidit admirans praesentium multitudo caeleste certamen Dei et spiritale, proelium Christi, stetisse servos eius voce libera, mente incorrupta, virtute divina, telis quidem saecularibus nudos, sed armis fidei credentis armatos. steterunt torti torquentibus fortiores et pulsantes ac laniantes ungulas pulsata ac laniata membra vicerunt. inexpugnabilem fidem superare non potuit saeviens diu plaga repetita, quamvis rupta compage viscerum torquerentur in servis Dei iam non membra sed vulnera. fluebat sanguis qui incendium persecutionis extingueret, qui flammas et ignes gehennae glorioso cruore sopiret. o quale illud fuit spectaculum Domini, quam sublime, quam magnum, quam Dei oculis sacramento ac devotione militis eius acceptum, sicut scriptum est in Psalmis Spiritu Sancto loquente ad nos pariter et monente: ‘pretiosa est in conspectu Dei mors iustorum eius’ [cf. Ps. 115.6]. pretiosa mors haec est quae emit immortalitatem pretio sui sanguinis, quae accipit coronam de consummatione virtutis.
(Cyprian, Epist. 10.2)

With what praises then should I commend you, most valiant Brethren? With what laudation of the voice should I extol the strength of your heart and the perseverance of your faith? You have endured, even to the consummation of glory, the hardest questioning; you have not yielded to torments, but rather the torments have yielded to you. An end of sorrows which torments did not give, crowns have given. The butcher’s stall has persisted for a time for this, not to cast down your abiding faith, but to send men of God more quickly to the Lord. The multitude of those present, admiring the celestial and spiritual combat of God, the battle of Christ, saw that His servants stood with a free voice, an incorruptible mind, a divinely inspired valor, stripped, indeed, of worldly weapons, but, believing, armed with the arms of faith. The tortured stood braver than the torturers; and battered and wounded limbs conquered hammering and tearing nails. Long repeated cruel flogging was not able to overcome an unconquerable faith although, with the structure of their internal organs ruptured, no longer members, but wounds, of the servants of God were tortured. Blood which might extinguish the conflagration of persecution, which might quiet the flames and fires of hell with glorious gore, was flowing. Oh, what was that spectacle of the Lord, how sublime, how exalted, how acceptable to the eyes of God in the solemn pledge and devotion of His army, as it is written in the Psalms when the Holy Spirit speaks to us likewise and warns: ‘Precious in the sight of God is the death of His faithful ones’! This death which has bought immortality at the price of its blood, which has received the crown from the consummation of its valor, is precious. (tr. Rose Bernard Donna)

Censura

1

Studebant augendo patrimonio singuli, et obliti quid credentes, aut sub apostolis ante fecissent, aut semper facere deberent, insatiabili cupiditatis ardore ampliandis facultatibus incubabant. non in sacerdotibus religio devota, non in ministris fides integra, non in operibus misericordia, non in moribus disciplina. corrupta barba in viris, in feminis forma fucata; adulterati post Dei manus oculi, capilli mendacio colorati. ad decipienda corda simplicium callidae fraudes, circumveniendis fratribus subdolae voluntates. iungere cum infidelibus vinculum matrimonii, prostituere cum gentilibus membra Christi. non iurare tantum temere, sed adhuc etiam peierare: praepositos superbo tumore contemnere, venenato sibi ore maledicere; odiis pertinacibus invicem dissidere. episcopi plurimi, quos et hortamento esse oportet ceteris et exemplo, divina procuratione contempta, procuratores rerum saecularium fieri, derelicta cathedra, plebe deserta, per alienas provincias oberrantes, negotiationis quaestuosae nundinas aucupari, esurientibus in Ecclesia fratribus, habere argentum largiter velle, fundos insidiosis fraudibus rapere, usuris multiplicantibus foenus augere. quid non perpeti tales pro peccatis eiusmodi mereremur, cum iam pridem praemonuerit ac dixerit censura divina: si dereliquerint legem meam, et in iudiciis meis non ambulaverint, si iustificationes meas profanaverint et pracepta mea non observaverint, visitabo in virga facinora eorum et in flagellis delicta eorum.
(Cyprian, De Lapsis 6)

Each one was desirous of increasing his estate; and forgetful of what believers had either done before in the times of the apostles, or always ought to do, they, with the insatiable ardour of covetousness, devoted themselves to the increase of their property. Among the priests there was no devotedness of religion; among the ministers there was no sound faith: in their works there was no mercy; in their manners there was no discipline. In men, their beards were defaced; in women, their complexion was dyed: the eyes were falsified from what God’s hand had made them; their hair was stained with a falsehood. Crafty frauds were used to deceive the hearts of the simple, subtle meanings for circumventing the brethren. They united in the bond of marriage with unbelievers; they prostituted the members of Christ to the Gentiles. They would swear not only rashly, but even more, would swear falsely; would despise those set over them with haughty swelling, would speak evil of one another with envenomed tongue, would quarrel with one another with obstinate hatred. Not a few bishops who ought to furnish both exhortation and example to others, despising their divine charge, became agents in secular business, forsook their throne, deserted their people, wandered about over foreign provinces, hunted the markets for gainful merchandise, while brethren were starving in the Church. They sought to possess money in hoards, they seized estates by crafty deceits, they increased their gains by multiplying usuries. What do not such as we deserve to suffer for sins of this kind, when even already the divine rebuke has forewarned us, and said, “If they shall forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they shall profane my statutes, and shall not observe my precepts, I will visit their offences with a rod, and their sins with scourges?” (tr. Robert Ernest Wallis)