Dr Anne Carpenter, an assistant professor of Theology at St. Mary’s College and a fellow Patheos Catholic blogger (follow her work on The Rule and the Raven), put up a post the other day that drew attention to a beautiful quote by St. Irenaeus of Lyon that I, to my shame, had not come across before. Drawing on the image of God as the potter and us as the clay, Irenaeus returns to the topic of our status as creature, but gives it a twist to show how this is for our good if we practice the hard labour of patience. In doing so, Irenaeus alerts us to the important of limit and the temptation to overcome those limits when we feel that God has not fulfilled our wishes, a theme that is developed in much greater detail by R.J. Snell in his brilliant book, Acedia and its Discontents.
I have placed the quote in full below.
You must hold the rank of man before you partake of the glory of God. You did not make God; God made you. If you are the handiwork of God, await the Craftsman’s hand patiently; He does everything at a favourable time, favourable, that is, to you, whom He made. Offer him your heart, pliant and unresisting. Preserve the form in which the Craftsman fashioned you. Keep within you the Water which comes from Him; without it, you harden and lose the imprint of His fingers