The Church celebrates St Titus, first bishop of Crete, this day; so it seems appropriate to sit down and read the Epistle of St Paul to Titus; from which I draw a few important points:
- first, i, 15: "to the clean all things are clean" (referring probably to the Gospel abrogation of the Mosaic distinction of meats into clean and unclean), which by accommodation is taken to mean that a pure mind may without being stained discuss for proportionate reasons even sources of temptation, as for instance is done when studying moral theology and considering in what matters men sin, though being careful to avoid proximate occasions of mortal sin;
- second, the repeated injunction to "excel in good works" (iii, 8 & 14), for Titus as a bishop to be "an example of good works" (ii, 7), and to reject the heretical example of those who are "worthless for any good work" (i, 16);
- third, what I would consider the central doctrinal import of the epistle (ii, 11-14 and iii, 3-7), which I now quote in extenso:
For the grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men; instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to Himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works.For we ourselves also were some time unwise, incredulous, erring, slaves to divers desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But when the goodness and kindness of God our Saviour appeared: not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost; Whom He hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour: that, being justified by his grace, we may be heirs, according to hope of life everlasting.
Pray for us, St Titus: that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.