Sunday, July 21, 2019

Chrysostom: Homily 4 on Romans

Excerpt from Homily 4 on Romans
By St. John Chrysostom

Romans I. 26, 27

"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one towards another."

"ALL THESE AFFECTIONS then were vile, but chiefly the mad lust after males; for the soul is more the sufferer in sins, and more dishonored, than the body in diseases. But behold how here too, as in the case of the doctrines, he deprives them of excuse, by saying of the women, that "they changed the natural use." For no one, he means, can say that it was by being hindered of legitimate intercourse that they came to this pass, or that it was from having no means to fulfil their desire that they were driven into this monstrous insanity. For the changing implies possession. Which also when discoursing upon the doctrines he said, "They changed the truth of God for a lie." And with regard to the men again, he shows the same thing by saying, "Leaving the natural use of the woman." And in a like way with those, these he also puts out of all means of defending themselves by charging them not only that they had the means of gratification, and left that which they had, and went after another, but that having dishonored that which was natural, they ran after that which was contrary to nature. But that which is contrary to nature has in it an irksomeness and displeasingness, so that they could not fairly allege even pleasure. For genuine pleasure is that which is according to nature. But when God has left one, then all things are turned upside down. And thus not only was their doctrine Satanical, but their life too was diabolical. Now when he was discoursing of their doctrines, he put before them the world and man's understanding, telling them that, by the judgment afforded them by God, they might through the things which are seen, have been led as by the hand to the Creator, and then, by not willing to do so, they remained inexcusable. Here in the place of the world he sets the pleasure according to nature, which they would have enjoyed with more sense of security and greater glad-heartedness, and so have been far removed from shameful deeds. But they would not; whence they are quite out of the pale of pardon, and have done an insult to nature itself. And a yet more disgraceful thing than these is it, when even the women seek after these intercourses, who ought to have more sense of shame than men. And here too the judgment of Paul is worthy of admiration, how having fallen upon two opposite matters he accomplishes them both with all exactness. For he wished both to speak chastely and to sting the hearer. Now both these things were not in his power to do, but one hindered the other. For if you speak chastely you shall not be able to bear hard upon the hearer. But if you are minded to touch him to the quick, you are forced to lay the naked facts before him in plain terms. But his discreet and holy soul was able to do both with exactness, and by naming nature has at once given additional force to his accusation, and also used this as a sort of veil, to keep the chasteness of his description. And next, having reproached the women first, he goes on to the men also, and says, "And likewise also the men leaving the natural use of the woman." Which is an evident proof of the last degree of corruptness, when both sexes are abandoned, and both he that was ordained to be the instructor of the woman, and she who was bid to become an helpmate to the man, work the deeds of enemies against one another. And reflect too how significantly he uses his words. For he does not say that they were enamoured of, and lusted after one another, but, "they burned in their lust one toward another." You see that the whole of desire comes of an exorbitancy which endures not to abide within its proper limits. For everything which transgresses the laws by God appointed, lusts after monstrous things and not those which be customary. For as many oftentimes having left the desire of food get to feed upon earth and small stones, and others being possessed by excessive thirst often long even for mire, thus these also ran into this ebullition of lawless love. But if you say, and whence came this intensity of lust? It was from the desertion of God: and whence is the desertion of God? From the lawlessness of them that left Him; men with men working that which is unseemly. Do not, he means, because you have heard that they burned, suppose that the evil was only in desire. For the greater part of it came of their luxuriousness, which also kindled into flame their lust. And this is why he did not say being swept along or being overtaken, an expression he uses elsewhere; but what? Working. They made a business of the sin, and not only a business, but even one zealously followed up. And he called it not lust, but that which is unseemly, and that properly. For they both dishonored nature, and trampled on the laws. And see the great confusion which fell out on both sides. For not only was the head turned downwards but the feet too were upwards, and they became enemies to themselves and to one another, bringing in a pernicious kind of strife, and one even more lawless than any civil war, and one rife in divisions, and of varied form. ..."

St. John Chrysostom

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Clerical Celibacy

Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene Church on Clerical Celibacy

+ "Let bishops, priests, an deacons, and in general all the clergy who are specially employed in the service of the altar, abstain from conjugal intercourse with their wives and the begetting of children; let those who persist be degraded from the ranks of the clergy."
─Council of Elvira, Canon 33. (ca. 305)

+ "If a priest marry, he shall be removed from the ranks of the clergy; if he commit fornication or adultery, he shall be excommunicated, and shall submit to penance."
─Council of Neocaesarea, Canon 1. (ca. 314─325)

+ "Now the Lord Jesus, when He illumined us by His appearing, declared in the Gospel that He was come to fulfil the law, not to abolish it. And so He desired that the Church, whose Bridegroom He is, should have her visage shining with the splendor of chastity, that in the day of judgment, when He comes again, He may find her without spot or blemish, as He ordained by His apostle. Hence all we priests and Levites (deacons) are bound by the unbreakable law of those instructions to subdue our hearts and bodies to soberness and modesty from the day of our ordination, that we may be wholly pleasing to our God in the sacrifices which we daily offer."
─Pope Siricius: "Decretal Letter to Himerius, Bishop of Terragona," 10. (Feb. 10, 385)

+ "We advise ('suademus') that priests and Levites (deacons) should not live with their wives."
─Council of Rome, Canon 9. (According to decretal letter of Pope Siricius to bishops of Africa) (386)

+ "Bishops, priests, and deacons must remain unmarried."
─Council of Rome, Canon 3. (402)

+ "Although they who are not within the ranks of the clergy are free to take pleasure in the companionship of wedlock and the procreation of children, yet, for the sake of exhibiting the purity of complete continence, even subdeacons are not allowed carnal marriage; that "both they that have wives be as though they had none" (1 Cor. 7:29), and they that have not may remain single. But if in this order, which is fourth from the head, this is worthy to be observed, how much more is it to be kept in the first, second, and third, lest anyone be reckoned fit for either the deacon's duties or the presbyter's honorable position, or the bishop's pre-eminence, who is discovered as yet having bridled his uxorious desires."
─Pope St. Leo I: "Letters," 14. (Norm for Western Church.) (5th cent.)

+ "Since it is declared in the apostolic canons that of those who are advanced to the clergy unmarried, only lectors and cantors are able to marry, we also, maintaining this, determine that henceforth it is in nowise lawful for any subdeacon, deacon, or presbyter after his ordination to contract matrimony; but if he shall dared to do so, let him be deposed. And if any of those who enter the clergy wishes to be joined to a wife in lawful marriage before he is ordained subdeacon, deacon, or presbyter, let it be done."
─Quinisext Council of Constantinople, Canon 6. (Norm for Eastern Church.) (692)

Thursday, July 4, 2019


+ "If anyone is able to preserve in chastity to the honor of the flesh of the Lord, let him do so in all humility."

─St. Ignatius of Antioch: "Letter to St. Polycarp," 5. (2nd cent.)

+ "We Christians regard a stain upon our chastity as more dreadful than any punishment, or even than death itself."

─Tertullian: "Apologeticus" (2nd. cent.)

"We are taught that chastity has three forms─one that of married life, a second that of widowhood, and a third that of virginity. We do not so extol one form as to exclude the others. In this, indeed the Church is rich, in that it has those whom it can rank before others, but none whom it rejects."

─St. Ambrose: "Concerning Widows," 23. (4th cent.)

+ "Let each one study his own powers, whether he can fulfil the precepts of virginal modesty. For of itself chastity is charming and attractive to all. But one's forces must be considered, that he who can may take it. The Lord's word is as it were an exhortation, stirring on His soldiers to the prize of purity. 'He that can take it, let him take it': let him who can, fight, conquer and receive his reward."

─St. Jerome: "Commentary on St. Matthew," 19:12. (5th cent.)

+ "The chastity of widows of widows and virgins is above the chastity of marriage."

─St. Augustine: "On the Good of Marriage." (5th cent.)

+ "Do not say that you have chaste minds if you have unchaste eyes, because an unchaste eye is the messenger of an unchaste heart."

─St. Augustine: "Letters 211." (His Rule.) (5th cent.)

+ "To love chastity."

─St. Benedict: "Rule," 4. (One of his "tools of good works") (6th cent.)

+ "Now, though the era of persecution is gone, yet our peace has its martyrdom, because though we bend not the neck to the sword, yet with a spiritual weapon we slay fleshly desires in our hearts."

─Pope St. Gregory the Great: "Hom. in Evang.", 1, 3, 4. (6th cent.)

Artwork: Allegory of Chastity (detail), by GIOTTO di Bondone. Fresco, c. 1320.
Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ephrem: Prayer to the Most Holy Mother of God

"But, O Virgin lady, immaculate Mother of God, my lady most glorious, most gracious, higher than heaven, much purer than the sun’s splendor, rays or light . . . budding staff of Aaron, you appeared as a true staff, and the flower is your Son our Christ, my God and my Maker. You bore God and the word according to the flesh, preserving your virginity before childbirth, a virgin after childbirth, and we have been reconciled with Christ God your Son.”

~St. Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306–373 AD): from Prayer to the Most Holy Mother of God.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Augustine on Heretics

"FOR WHILE the hot restlessness of heretics stirs questions about many articles of the Catholic faith, the necessity of defending them forces us both to investigate them more accurately, to understand them more clearly, and to proclaim them more earnestly."

~St. Augustine: The City of God, Bk. 16, Chap. 2. (5th cent.)

Isidore of Seville on Heresy

"THEREFORE, heresy is so called from the Greek word meaning 'choice', by which each chooses according to his own will what he pleases to teach or believe. But we are not permitted to believe whatever we choose, nor to choose whatever someone else has believed. We have the apostles of God as authorities, who did not themselves of their own will choose what they would believe, but faithfully transmitted to the nations the teaching received from Christ. So, even if an angel from heaven should preach otherwise, he shall be called anathema."

~St. Isidore of Seville: Etymologies, 8, 3. (7th cent.)

Cyprian on Heresy

"WHOEVER has been separated from the Church is yoked with an adulteress, is separated from the promises made to the Church. Nor shall he who leaves Christ's arrive at Christ's rewards. He is a stranger, he is sacrilegious, he is an enemy. Who has not the Church for mother can no longer have God for father."

On the Unity of the Catholic Church, 6.

"NEVERTHELESS, the Lord allows and suffers these things to be, while each man's will free, so that while our hearts and minds are tested in the crucible of truth, the sound faith of those that are approved may shine forth clear and undimmed."

On the Unity of the Catholic Church, 10.

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