December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Book of Wisdom
- Again, one preparing for a voyage and about to traverse the wild waves cries out to wood more unsound than the boat that bears him.
- For the urge for profits devised this latter, and Wisdom the artificer produced it.
- But your providence, O Father! guides it, for you have furnished even in the sea a road, and through the waves a steady path,
- Showing that you can save from any danger, so that even one without skill may embark.
- But you will that the products of your Wisdom be not idle; therefore men trust their lives even to frailest wood, and have been safe crossing the surge on a raft.
- 1 For of old, when the proud giants were being destroyed, the hope of the universe, who took refuge on a raft, left to the world a future for his race, under the guidance of your hand.
- 2 For blest is the wood through which justice comes about;
- but the handmade idol is accursed, and its maker as well: he for having produced it, and it, because though corruptible, it was termed a god.
- Equally odious to God are the evildoer and his evil deed;
- and the thing made shall be punished with its contriver.
- Therefore upon even the idols of the nations shall a visitation come, since they have become abominable amid God's works, Snares for the souls of men and a trap for the feet of the senseless.
- For the source of wantoness is the devising of idols; and their invention was a corruption of life.
- For in the beginning they were not, nor shall they continue forever;
- for by the vanity of men they came into the world, and therefore a sudden end is devised for them.
- For a father, afflicted with untimely mourning, made an image of the child so quickly taken from him, And now honored as a god what was formerly a dead man and handed down to his subjects mysteries and sacrifices.
- Then, in time, the impious practice gained strength and was observed as law, and graven things were worshiped by princely decrees.
- Men who lived so far away that they could not honor him in his presence copied the appearance of the distant king And made a public image of him they wished to honor, out of zeal to flatter him when absent, as though present.
- And to promote this observance among those to whom it was strange, the artisan's ambition provided a stimulus.
- For he, mayhap in his determination to please the ruler, labored over the likeness to the best of his skill;
- And the masses, drawn by the charm of the workmanship, soon thought he should be worshiped who shortly before was honored as a man.
- And this became a snare for mankind, that men enslaved to either grief or tyranny conferred the incommunicable Name on stocks and stones.
- Then it was not enough for them to err in their knowledge of God; but even though they live in a great war of ignorance, they call such evils peace.
- For while they celebrate either child-slaying sacrifices or clandestine mysteries, or frenzied carousals in unheard-of rites,
- They no longer safeguard either lives or pure wedlock; but each either waylays and kills his neighbor, or aggrieves him by adultery.
- And all is confusion-blood and murder, theft and guile, corruption, faithlessness, turmoil, perjury,
- Disturbance of good men, neglect of gratitude, besmirching of souls, unnatural lust, disorder in marriage, adultery and shamelessness.
- For the worship of infamous idols is the reason and source and extremity of all evil.
- For they either go mad with enjoyment, or prophesy lies, or live lawlessly or lightly forswear themselves.
- For as their trust is in soulless idols, they expect no harm when they have sworn falsely.
- 3 But on both counts shall justice overtake them: because they thought ill of God and devoted themselves to idols, and because they deliberately swore false oaths, despising piety.
- 4 For not the might of those that are sworn by but the retribution of sinners ever follows upon the transgression of the wicked.
Table of Contents Previous Chapter Next Chapter
1  Noah.
2  Often applied to the Cross of our Lord.
3  Piety: the sanctity of oaths.
4  Perjury is a form of deceit which calls for punishment even though it be practiced in the name of a lifeless idol.
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