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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter II. The author adapts the mystery of the number seven (made up of the five loaves and two fishes) to his own work.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter II.

The author adapts the mystery of the number seven (made up of the five loaves and two fishes) to his own work.

Meanwhile as we have alluded to the five loaves, I think it will not be out of place to make a comparison of the five books which we have already composed. For as they are equal in number, so they are not dissimilar in character. For as the loaves were of barley, so these books may (as far as my ability is concerned) be fairly termed “of barley,” although they are enriched with passages from Holy Scripture, and contain life-giving treasures in contemptible surroundings. And even in this point they are not unlike those loaves, for though they were poor things to look at, yet they proved to be rich in blessing: and so these books, though, as far as my powers are concerned, they are worthless, yet they are valuable from the sacred matter which is mingled with them: and though they appear outwardly worthless like barley owing to my words, yet within they have the savour of the bread of life owing to the testimonies from the Lord Himself. It remains that, after His example, they may, by the gift of Divine grace, furnish life-giving food from countless seeds. And as those loaves supplied bodily strength to those who ate them, so may these give spiritual vigour to those who read them. But as then the Lord, from whom this gift comes as did that, by means of that food provided that they might be filled and so should not faint by the way, so now is He able to bring it about that by means of this men may be filled and not err (from the faith). But still because there, where a countless host of God’s people was fed with a mighty gift, though there was very little for them to eat, we read that to those five loaves there were added two fishes, it is fitting that we too, who are anxious to give to all God’s people who are following, the nourishment of a spiritual repast, should add to those five books corresponding to the five loaves, two more books corresponding to the two fishes: praying and beseeching Thee, O Lord, that Thou wilt look on our efforts and prayers, and grant a prosperous issue to our pious undertaking. And since we, out of our love and obedience, desire to make the number of our books correspond to the number of loaves and fishes, do Thou grant the virtue of Thy Benediction upon them; and, as Thou dost bless 2546 this little work of ours with a gospel number, so mayest Thou fill up the number with the fruit of the gospel, and grant that this may be for holy and saving food to all the people of Thy Church, of every age and sex. And if there are some who are affected by the deadly breath of that poisonous serpent, and in an unhealthy state of soul and spirit have caught a pestilential disease in their feeble dispositions, give to them all the vigour of health, and entire soundness of faith, that by granting to them all, by means of these writings of ours, the saving care of Thy gift—just as p. 592 that food in the gospel was completely sanctified by Thee, so that by eating it those hungry souls were strengthened,—so mayest Thou bid languid souls to be healed by these.



Muneraris, (Petschenig): Gazæus reads numeraris.

Next: Chapter III. He refutes his opponent by the testimony of the Council of Antioch.

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