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NON-CANONICAL EPISTLES AND RELATED WRITINGS

this � . . . � and instant of our �pilgrimage on the earth� they may display an angelic appearance. As the Lord says, “Such are to be called angels.”1 Those then who are not defiled with women2 he calls an angelic host. Those who have not abandoned themselves to men, he calls virgins, as the apostle of Christ says: “the unmarried think day and night on godly things,”3 i.e. to act prop­ erly and to please Him alone, and not to deny by their doings what they have promised in words. Why should a virgin who is already betrothed to Christ be united with a carnal man? It is not lawful to cling to a man and to serve him more than God. Virgin! Thou hast cast off Christ, to whom thou wert betrothed! Thou has separated thy­ self from Him, thou who strivest to re­ main united to another! O beauteous maidenhood, at the last thou art stuck fast in love to a male being! O (holy) ascetic state, thou disappearest (when) the saints match human offences! O body, thou art put to the yoke of the law of God, and ever and again committest fornication! Thou art crucified to this world,4 and continuest to act up to it! If the apostle Paul forbade communion to a woman caught in an adulterous relation with a strange man,5 how much more when those concerned are saints dedi­ cated to Christ! Thou art caught in the vile fellowship of this world, and yet regardest thyself as worthy of the blood of Christ or as united with his body! But this is not the case: if thou eat of the flesh of the Lord unworthily, then thou takest vainly instead of life the fire of thine everlasting punishment! O virgin: if thou strivest to please (another), then thou hast already committed a sin of volition, for the Evangelist says: “one cannot serve two masters, for he obeys the one, and despises the other.”6 O virgin! so is it also

with thee. Thou despisest God, whilst striving to please a man. Wherefore contemplate the footprints of our ancestors! Consider the daughter of Jephthah: willing to do what had been promised by her father and vowing her own self as a sacrifice to the Lord, she first manifested her connection with God and took other virgins with her “that in the mountains throughout sixty days they might bewail her virginity.”7 O luminous secrets which disclose the future in ad­ vance! Virgin is joined with virgin, and in love to her she bewails the peril of her flesh until the day of her reward comes! Rightly does he say “sixty days,” since he means the sixtyfold reward of holiness which the ascetic can gain through many pains, according to the teaching of the apostle: “Let us not lose courage, he says, in the hardest labours, in affliction, in grief, in suffering abuse: we suffer per­ secution, but we are not forsaken, be­ cause we bear in our body the passion of Christ. Wherefore we are by no means overcome.”8 And again the same apostle left an example behind him, describing his own disasters and saying: “I have labored much, I have frequently been im­ prisoned, I have suffered extremely many floggings, I have often fallen into deadly peril. Of the Jews, he says, I have five times received forty stripes save one, three times have I been beaten with rods, once have I been stoned; thrice have I suffered shipwreck, a day and a night I have spent in the depth of the sea; I have often journeyed, often been in peril of rivers in peril of robbers, in peril among

1

Mark 12: 25 par. 2Rev 14:4. 31 Cor 7:34. 4Cf. Gal 6:14. 5This happening is recorded in detail in the Actus Petri cum Simone. The name of the woman concerned is there given as Rufina. 6Matt 6:24. 7 Jdg. 11:38. 82 Cor 4:8ff.

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