Principium Rigans montes
Inaugural Lecture 1: Watering the Mountains
Watering the Mountains
Rigans montes de superioribus suis; de fructu operum tuorum satiabitur terra (Ps 103:13).
Watering the mountains from your upper rooms; the earth shall be filled with the fruit of your works (Ps 103:13).
Rex caelorum et Dominus hanc legem ab aeterno instituit, ut providentiae suae dona ad infima per media pervenirent.
The King and Lord of the heavens instituted this law from eternity, that the gifts of his providence would come to lower things through mediators.
Unde Dionysius, quinto capitulo Ecclesiasticae hierarchiae dicit: lex divinitatis sacratissima est, ut per prima media adducantur ad sui divinissimam lucem. Quae quidem lex, non solum in spiritualibus, sed etiam in corporalibus invenitur. Unde Augustinus III De trinitate: quemadmodum igitur crassiora et infirmiora per corpora subtiliora et potentiora quodam ordine reguntur, ita omnia corpora per spiritum vitae rationalem.
Hence, Dionysius says, in On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, 5: the most sacred divine law is such that by first things the middle things should be led to his most divine light. This law is found not only in spiritual things but also in bodily things. Hence Augustine says, in On the Trinity, 3: therefore, in the way that the most base and lowly are ruled by more subtle and powerful in rank, so also all bodies are ruled by the rational spirit of life.
Et ideo psalmo praedictam legem in communicatione spiritualis sapientiae observatam sub metaphora corporalium rerum proposuit Dominus:
And, so, in this psalm the Lord proposed a law observed for imparting spiritual wisdom under metaphors of bodily things:
rigans montes, et cetera.
watering the mountains.
Videmus autem ad sensum, a superioribus nubium imbres effluere, quibus montes rigati flumina de se emittunt, quibus terra satiata fecundatur.
We even see by our senses that rains flow from the highest clouds by which the mountains and rivers are watered and send themselves on by which the nourished earth becomes fruitful.
Similiter, de supernis divinae sapientiae rigantur mentes doctorum, qui per montes significantur, quorum ministerio lumen divinae sapientiae usque ad mentes audientium derivatur.
In the same way, from the heights of divine wisdom the minds of teachers, signified by the mountains, are watered, by whose ministry the light of divine wisdom comes to the minds of those who hear them.
Sic igitur in verbo proposito quattuor possumus considerare, scilicet:
Therefore, this passage provides four items that should be considered, namely,
spiritualis doctrinae altitudinem;
the heights of spiritual teaching,
doctorum eius dignitatem;
the dignity of its teachers,
the condition of those who listen,
et communicandi ordinem.
and the order of communication.
The Heights of Sacred Doctrine
Altitudo ista ostenditur in hoc quod dicit: de superioribus suis. Glossa: de altioribus archanis.
The heights are shown in the words: from thy upper rooms. The Gloss reads: from high hidden chambers.
Habet enim sacra doctrina altitudinem ex tribus.
In fact, sacred doctrine has its height from three things.
Primo, ex origine: haec enim est sapientia quae de sursum esse describitur. Iac. III et Eccli. I: fons sapientiae verbum Dei in excelsis.
First, from its origin. For this is the wisdom described as being from the heights: the word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom (Sir 1:5; Jas 3:15).
Secundo, ex subtilitate materiae, Eccli. XXIV: ego in altissimis habitavi. Sunt enim quaedam alta divinae sapientiae, ad quae omnes perveniunt, etsi imperfecte, quia cognitio existendi Deum naturaliter omnibus est inserta, ut dicit Damascenus, et quantum ad hoc dicitur, Iob XXXVI: omnes homines vident eum unusquisque intuetur procul. Quaedam vero sunt altiora, ad quae sola sapientum ingenia pervenerunt, rationis tantum ductu, de quibus, Rom. I: quod enim notum est Dei, manifestum est in illis. Quaedam autem sunt altissima, quae omnem humanam rationem transcendunt; et quantum ad hoc dicitur, Iob XXVIII: abscondita est sapientia ab oculis omnium viventium; et in psalmo: posuit tenebras latibulum suum. Sed hoc per Spiritum Sanctum qui scrutatur etiam profunda Dei, I Cor. II, sacri doctores edocti tradiderunt in textu Sacrae Scripturae; et ista sunt altissima, in quibus haec sapientia dicitur habitare.
Second, from the subtlety of its content: I dwelt in the highest places (Sir 24:7). Now, there are some heights of divine wisdom to which all come, although imperfectly, because the knowledge of the existence of God is naturally placed in everyone, as Damascene says, and in the same way it is said in Job: all men see him, every one beholdeth afar off (Job 36:25). Truly, other things are higher, to which only the talent of the wise reaches, whose reasoning is great enough to lead to it. Hence: that which is known of God is manifest in them (Rom 1:19). Others are so high that they transcend all human reason, and these are spoken of in Job: wisdom is hidden from the eyes of all the living (Job 28:21), and in the psalm: he put on darkness as his covert (Ps 17:12). But holy teachers were taught by the Holy Spirit who searches even the deep things of God (1 Cor 2:10) and handed it on in the text of Sacred Scripture; and these are the highest, in which this wisdom is said to live.
Tertio, ex finis sublimitate: finem enim habet altissimum, scilicet vitam aeternam, Ioan. XX: haec autem scripta sunt ut credatis quia Iesus est Christus Filius Dei; et ut credentes vitam habeatis in nomine eius. Col. III: quae sursum sunt quaerite ubi Christus est in dextera Dei sedens; quae sursum sunt sapite, non quae super terram.
Third, from the sublimity of its end: because it has the highest of ends, namely, eternal life: but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31); and: seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth (Col 3:1-2).
The Dignity of Its Teachers
Ratione enim altitudinis huius doctrinae et in doctoribus eius requiritur dignitas; unde per montes significantur, cum dicitur: rigans montes;
On account of the height of this doctrine, dignity is required of its teachers; hence, they are signified by the mountains, when it is said: watering the mountains,
et hoc propter tria, scilicet:
and this on account of three things, namely:
primo, propter montium altitudinem. Sunt enim a terra elevati et caelo vicini. Sic enim sacri doctores terrena contemnendo solis caelestibus inhiant, Philipp. III: nostra autem conversatio in caelis est, unde de ipso doctore doctorum, scilicet Christo, dicitur, Isai. II: elevabitur super colles et fluent ad eum omnes gentes.
first, on account of the height of the mountains, because they are raised about the earth and neighbor the sky. Hence, the holy teachers despise earthly things and desire only heavenly things: but our conversation is in heaven (Phil 3:20). Hence, about the teacher of teachers, namely Christ, it is said: it shall be lifted upon the hills and all nations shall flow into it (Isa 2:2).
Secundo, propter splendorem. Primo enim montes radiis illustrantur. Et similiter sacri doctores mentium splendorem primo recipiunt. Sicut montes enim doctores primitus radiis divinae sapientiae illuminantur, Psal.: illuminans tu mirabiliter a montibus aeternis turbati sunt omnes insipientes corde; id est a doctoribus qui sunt in participatione aeternitatis, Philipp. II: inter quos lucetis sicut luminaria in mundo.
Second, on account of their brilliance. First, because the mountains are lit by rays. And, similarly, the minds of the holy teachers are the first recipients of brilliance. For the sacred teachers are illuminated like mountains by the first rays of divine wisdom: you enlighten wonderfully from the everlasting hills; all the foolish in heart were troubled (Ps 75:5-6); that is, by teachers who are participating in eternity: among whom you shine as lights in the world (Phil 2:15).
Tertio, propter montium munitionem, quia per montes terra ab hostibus defenditur. Ita et doctores Ecclesiae in defensionem fidei debent esse contra errores. Filii Israel non in lancea, nec in sagitta confidunt, sed montes defendunt illos. Et ideo quibusdam improperatur, Ezech. XIII: non ascendistis ex adverso neque opposuistis murum pro domo Israel, ut staretis in praelio in die Domini.
Third, on account of the fortification of the mountains, because by mountains a country is defended from enemies. And in this way the teachers of the Church must defend the faith against errors. The sons of Israel do not trust in spear or arrow, but the mountains defend them. For that reason one is blamed: you have not gone up to face the enemy, nor have you set up a wall for the house of Israel, to stand in battle in the day of the Lord (Ezek 13:5).
Omnes igitur doctores Sacrae Scripturae
Therefore, all teachers of Sacred Scripture
esse debent alti per vitae eminentiam, ut sint idonei ad efficaciter praedicandum; quia, ut dicit Gregorius in pastorali: cuius vita despicitur, necesse est ut eius praedicatio contemnatur.
should be lifted up by the eminence of their lives so that they may be fit to preach effectively; because as Gregory says in his Pastoral Care: he whose life is despised, his preaching is likewise necessarily despised.
Eccle. XII: verba sapientum quasi stimuli et quasi clavi in altum defixi.
And: the words of the wise are as goads, and as nails deeply fastened in (Eccl 12:11).
Non enim cor stimulari potest aut configi in timore Dei, nisi in vitae altitudine defigatur.
For the heart cannot be goaded or fastened in fear of God if it is not focused on elevation of life.
Debent esse illuminati, ut idonee doceant legendo, Ephes. III: mihi autem omnium sanctorum minimo data est gratia haec, in gentibus evangelizare investigabiles divitias Christi, et illuminare omnes, quae sit dispensatio sacramenti absconditi a saeculis in Deo.
They should be illuminated so that they may teach well by reading: to me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace, to preach among the gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to enlighten all men, that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God (Eph 3:8-9).
Muniti, ut errores confutent disputando, Luc. XXI: ego dabo vobis os et sapientiam, cui non poterunt resistere et contradicere omnes adversarii vestri.
They should be armed so that they may refute errors by argument: for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay (Luke 21:15).
Et de his tribus officiis, scilicet praedicandi, legendi et disputandi, dicitur, Tit. I: ut sit potens exhortari, quantum ad praedicationem; in doctrina sana, quantum ad lectionem; et contradicentes revincere, quantum ad disputationem.
And, of these three offices, namely, to preach, to teach, and to argue, it is said: that he may be able to exhort, by way of preaching, in sound doctrine, by way of teaching, and to convince the gainsayers, by way of argument (Titus 1:9).
The Condition of Those Who Listen
Tertio, auditorum conditionem, quae sub terrae similitudine figuratur; unde dicit: satiabitur terra.
Third, the condition of those who listen, who are shown under the likeness of earth; hence, it says: the earth shall be filled.
Et hoc quia terra infima est, Prov. XXV: caelum sursum et terra deorsum.
And this because the earth is lowest: the heaven above, and the earth beneath (Prov 25:3).