St. Asterius of Amasea on Saints’ Feasts

“A panegyris* is a schoolroom for our souls.”

— “On Avarice,” St. Asterius of Amasea

Here’s a passage from another translation of the same homily:

“Christians and sharers of a heavenly calling, you country folk and all who come from the towns, you who in concord have gathered at the present feast — for by a general address I embrace you all — has each one of you thoughtfully considered and realized why we are assembled? And why are martyrs honored by the construction of notable buildings and by these annual assemblies, and what end did our fathers have in view when they ordained the things we see, and left the established custom to their descendants? Is it not evident to one who concentrates his thought on this subject even for a short time, that these things have been given permanent form to rouse us to pious emulation, and that the feasts constitute public schools for our souls, in order that while we honor the martyrs, we may learn to imitate their sturdy piety; that lending the ear to the gathered teachers, we may learn some useful thing which we did not know before — either the certainty of some doctrine, or the explanation of some difficult Scripture — or may hear some discourse that will improve our morals?

“Against Covetousness,” trans. Galusha Anderson and Edgar Johnson Goodspeed in Ancient Sermons for Modern Times by St. Asterius of Amasea, 1904.

* martyr feastday, so called because of all the panegyric praise heaped upon the martyr on that day.

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