Those Older and Wiser: The Living Tradition Around Us

I was working through translating Leo I’s Tome (Ep. 28) when I noticed that some of what he says about Eutyches ties into a thought I’ve been having of late about truth-seeking as in St. Vincent (discussed here).

Leo writes:

What, moreover, is more iniquitous than to taste impieties and not to give way to wiser and more learned men? But into this senselessness fall thsoe who, when they are prevented from understnading the truth by something obscure, run back not to the prophetic utterances, not to the apostolic writings, nor to the evangelical authorities, but to their very own selves, and, moreover, they become teachers of error because they had not been students of truth.

The bit of this passage I want to draw especial attention towards is the bit where Eutyches is recommended to ‘give way to wiser and more learned men,’ as well as to Scripture. No doubt, Leo thinks of himself as such, and probably of Flavian, the intended recipient of this letter.

Whom Leo imagines to be wiser is of no import for my consideration, though. What is of import is the idea of turning to other, living members of the Church for wisdom.

In St. Vincent, we read that he had ‘sought thoroughly with great zeal and the highest attentiveness from very many men outstanding in holiness and doctrine.’ St. Antony, according to The Life of Saint Antony by ‘St. Athanasius,’ similarly sought out others — when he first took up the ascetic life, he went around to all the local ascetics in turn and learned from them the right way to livie.

Who are the wise elders in your life? From whom have you learned both the teachings of the faith and the praxis of the faith-lived-out? We should sit at the feet of those who are older in the faith than we are and who are also still alive.

I, myself, have gained wisdom from my parents — my father is an Anglican priest who celebrates weekly Eucharist and has been involved in ‘charismatic’ renewal; my mother, also involved in renewal, has been involved in most aspects of church life from music ministry, to Sunday School, to Bible studies, to conferences, to typing things up. They are a wise pair to have recourse to.

There are others I turn to today, as well. Seek wisdom where it is to be found — and that’s not just in the dusty writings of dead monks and theologians!


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