“IF the apostles and martyrs, when they were still in the body, and had still to be solicitous on their own account, prayed for others, how much more when they have won the crown, when they have gained the victory and the triumph?”
~St. Jerome (c. 340 - 420): Contra Vigilantium, 6.
St. Jerome in the Wilderness, by Albrecht Dϋrer. Oil on panel, c. 1495; National Gallery, London.
“THE devil rules over lovers of temporal goods belonging to this visible world, not because he is lord of this world, but because he is ruler of those covetous desires by which we long for all that passes away.”
“IF you have sincere piety, the Holy Ghost comes down on you also, and a Father’s voice sounds over you from high—not, ‘This is My Son’ (Mt. 3:17), but, ‘This has now been made My Son’; for the ‘is’ belongs to Him alone, because ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’ (Jn. 1:1). To Him Belongs the ‘is’ since He is always the Son of God; but to you ‘has now been made’: since you have not the sonship by nature, but you receive it by adoption.”
“IT VERY OFTEN happens that there is some question as to the earth and the sky, or the other elements of this world—respecting which one who is not a Christian has knowledge derived from most certain reasoning or observation, and it is very disgraceful and mischievous and of all things to be carefully avoided, that a Christian speaking of such matters as being according to the Christian Scriptures, should be heard by an unbeliever talking such nonsense that the unbeliever perceiving him to be as wide from the mark as east is from west, can hardly restrain himself from laughing.
“And the real evil is not that a man is subjected to derision because of his error, but it is that to profane eyes, our authors (that is to say, the sacred authors) are regarded as having had such thoughts; and are also exposed to blame and scorn upon the score of ignorance, to the greatest possible misfortune of people whom we wish to save. For, in fine, these profane people happen upon a Christian busy making mistakes on the subject which they know perfectly; how, then, will they believe these holy books? How will they believe in the resurrection of the dead and in the hope of life eternal, and in the kingdom of heaven, when, according to an erroneous assumption, these books seem to them to have as their object those very things which they, the profane, know by direct experience or by calculation which admits of no doubt?
“It is impossible to say what vexation and sorrow prudent Christians meet with through these presumptuous and bold spirits who, taken to task one day for their silly and false opinion, and realizing themselves on the point of being convicted by men who are not obedient to the authority of our holy books, wish to defend their so thoughtless, so bold, and so manifestly false. For they then commence to bring forward as a proof precisely our holy books, or again they attribute to them from memory that which seems to support their opinion, and they quote numerous passages, understanding neither the texts they quote, nor the subject about which they are making statement.”
~St. Augustine: De Genesi ad litteram, lib. I, cap. XIX.
“IN the first place, I want you to hold as the basic truth of this discussion that our Lord Jesus Christ, as He Himself said in the Gospel, has subjected us to His yoke and His burden, which are light. Therefore, He has laid on the society of His new people the obligations of the sacraments, most sublime in their meaning, as, for example, baptism hallowed by the name of the Trinity, Communion of His Body and His Blood, and whatever else is commended in the canonical writings, with the exception of those burdens found in the five books of Moses, which imposed on the ancient people a servitude in accordance with their character and prophetic times in which they have lived. But, regarding those other observances which we keep and all the world keeps, and which do not derive from Scripture but from tradition, we are given to understand that they have been ordained or recommended to be kept by the Apostles themselves, or by plenary councils, whose authority is well founded in the Church.”
"LUKE a physician of Antioch, as his writings indicate, was not unskilled in the Greek language. An adherent of the apostle Paul, and companion of all his journeying, he wrote a Gospel, concerning which the same Paul says, “We send with him a brother whose praise in the gospel is among all the churches” and to the Colossians “Luke the beloved physician salutes you,” and to Timothy “Luke only is with me.” He also wrote another excellent volume to which he prefixed the title Acts of the Apostles, a history which extends to the second year of Paul's sojourn at Rome, that is to the fourth year of Nero, from which we learn that the book was composed in that same city. Therefore the Acts of Paul and Thecla and all the fable about the lion baptized by him we reckon among the apocryphal writings, for how is it possible that the inseparable companion of the apostle in his other affairs, alone should have been ignorant of this thing. Moreover Tertullian who lived near those times, mentions a certain presbyter in Asia, an adherent of the apostle Paul, who was convicted by John of having been the author of the book, and who, confessing that he did this for love of Paul, resigned his office of presbyter. Some suppose that whenever Paul in his epistle says “according to my gospel” he means the book of Luke and that Luke not only was taught the gospel history by the apostle Paul who was not with the Lord in the flesh, but also by other apostles. This he too at the beginning of his work declares, saying “Even as they delivered unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word.” So he wrote the gospel as he had heard it, but composed the Acts of the apostles as he himself had seen. He was buried at Constantinople to which city, in the twentieth year of Constantius, his bones together with the remains of Andrew the apostle were transferred."
“THEREFORE it is necessary to obey the presbyters who are in the Church,—those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also necessary] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever.”
“IT is one thing to be, and another thing to be primarily (principipaliter), one thing to be subject to change, and another thing to be independent of change. For all these things [i.e. creatures] are in being, but they are not maintained in being by themselves, and unless they are maintained by the hand of a governing agent, they could never be…. For all things were made out of nothing, and their being would again go into nothing, unless the author of all things held it by the hand of governance.”
“MEN, having despised and rejected the contemplation of God, and devised and contrived evil for themselves (as was said in the former treatise), received the condemnation of death with which they had been threatened; and from thenceforth no longer remained as they were made, but were being corrupted according to their devices; and death had the mastery over them as king. For transgression of the commandment was turning them back to their natural state, so that just as they have had their being out of nothing, so also, as might be expected, they might look for corruption into nothing in the course of time.”
“TELL my sisters to love the Lord and be satisfied with
their husbands in flesh and spirit. In the same way tell my brothers in the
name of Jesus Christ to love their wives as the Lord does the Church.”
“CHARITY is the bond of brotherhood, the foundation of peace, the mainstay and security of unity, which is greater than both hope and faith, which excels both good works and martyrdom, which will abide with us always, eternal with God in the kingdom of heaven.”
“NOTHING is to be taken away from the apostolic writings, and nothing is to be added to them; in the same way we must expunge nothing from the Creed drawn up and handed down by the apostles, nor must we add anything to it. This is the Creed which the Roman church holds, where Peter, the first of the apostles, sat, and thither he brought the common decisions (sententiam).”
~St. Ambrose (c. 340 - 397): Explicatio symboli ad Initiandos.
St. Ambrose, by Cesare Fracanzano (1605-1651). Oil on canvas; Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle.