St Maria of Paris: Pharisaism

“And once again we must say in all fairness that the role of the pharisees in Christianity is not exhausted only with the extinguishing of the fire, the freezing and killing of all that is alive and ardent. They do actually and authentically watch over, keep, preserve, and bear the coffer of Christian treasures through the narrow passes of dead and self-satisfied epochs. In this sense it is not for the philistine, not for the representative of such dead epochs to attack them; they faithfully defend Christianity against the paganism that abides eternally in the world, against the cult of petty passions, prejudices, the cult of various idols, calves made of various metals – the iron calf of state power, the golden calf of economic prosperity, and so on.

But along with that they try to protect the Church against authentic Christian fervor, against all fire in general; they only preserve what is sacred to them and keep others from being nourished by it. The evaluation of pharisaism’s significance and usefulness for the Church depends largely on the epoch in which the pharisees live. That evaluation therefore varies greatly and is subject to very marked fluctuations.

We stand now at the beginning of a new epoch in the Church. Much in its character is already clear. From this clarity we must judge what the Church needs at the given moment, what will contribute to her growth and ardor, and what, on the contrary, is harmful for her.

Apart from the immediate sense of the epoch, we can and most determine, in our judgements, its distinctness from the preceding epoch. This gives us the possibility of seeing what new things the Church now demands of us and what we must now free ourselves from so as not to harm her with what is old and even antiquated.”

– St Maria of Paris