Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"The bishop must not spare"

“Bishops must not rashly assail kings, if there be no grave sins for which the latter deserve reproach; but, if there be grave sins, the bishop must not spare, that the offenders may be corrected by his just remonstrances.”

~St. Ambrose: In Ps. 37 Enarr. 43.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

On Philosophy

“Is this not the task of philosophy to inquire about the divine?” 
~St. Justin Martyr: Dialogue with Trypho, 1.

"Philosophy, then, is the knowledge of that which really exists, and a clear perception of the truth; and happiness is the reward of such knowledge and wisdom."
~Dialogue with Trypho, 3.

“Philosophy is the knowledge of things human and divine, united with a zeal for right living.” 
~St. Isidore of Seville: Etymologies, 2, 24.

“Philosophy is the meditation on death; this definition is better suited to Christians who, trampling on worldly ambitions, live in the intercourse of discipline, after the likeness of their future country.”
~St. Isidore: Etymologies, 2, 24.

“Philosophy is called natural when the nature of each and every thing is discussed, since nothing arises contrary to nature in life, but each thing is assigned to those uses for which it was intended by the Creator, unless perchance by God’s will it is shown that some miracle has intervened.”

~St. Isidore: Etymologies, 2, 24.

“Philosophy is the art of arts and science of sciences.” 
~St. John Damascene: Dialectica, 3.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Didache

The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations. (c. 100 A.D.)

Ch. 1. The Two Ways; The First Commandment

There are two ways, one of life and one of death; but a great difference between the two ways. The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love God who made you; second, your neighbour as yourself; and all things whatsoever you would should not occur to you, do not also do to another. And of these sayings the teaching is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there, if you love those who love you? Do not also the Gentiles do the same? But love those who hate you, and you shall not have an enemy. Abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts. If someone gives you a blow upon your right cheek, turn to him the other also, and you shall be perfect. If someone impresses you for one mile, go with him two. If someone takes away your cloak, give him also your coat. If someone takes from you what is yours, ask it not back, for indeed you are not able. Give to every one that asks you, and ask it not back; for the Father wills that to all should be given of our own blessings (free gifts). Happy is he that gives according to the commandment; for he is guiltless. Woe to him that receives; for if one having need receives, he is guiltless; but he that receives not having need, shall pay the penalty, why he received and for what, and, coming into straits (confinement), he shall be examined concerning the things which he has done, and he shall not escape thence until he pay back the last farthing. (Mt 5:26) But also now concerning this, it has been said, Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give.

Ch. 2. The Second Commandment: Gross Sin Forbidden

And the second commandment of the Teaching; You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, (Ex 20:13-14) you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, (Ex 20:15) you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten. You shall not covet the things of your neighbour, (Ex 20:17) you shall not forswear yourself, (Mt 5:34) you shall not bear false witness, (Ex 20:16) you shall not speak evil, you shall bear no grudge. You shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued; for to be double-tongued is a snare of death. Your speech shall not be false, nor empty, but fulfilled by deed. You shall not be covetous, nor rapacious, nor a hypocrite, nor evil disposed, nor haughty. You shall not take evil counsel against your neighbour. You shall not hate any man; but some you shall reprove, and concerning some you shall pray, and some you shall love more than your own life. 

Ch. 3. Other Sins Forbidden

My child, flee from every evil thing, and from every likeness of it. Be not prone to anger, for anger leads the way to murder; neither jealous, nor quarrelsome, nor of hot temper; for out of all these murders are engendered. My child, be not a lustful one; for lust leads the way to fornication; neither a filthy talker, nor of lofty eye; for out of all these adulteries are engendered. My child, be not an observer of omens, since it leads the way to idolatry; neither an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a purifier, nor be willing to took at these things; for out of all these idolatry is engendered. My child, be not a liar, since a lie leads the way to theft; neither money-loving, nor vainglorious, for out of all these thefts are engendered. My child, be not a murmurer, since it leads the way to blasphemy; neither self-willed nor evil-minded, for out of all these blasphemies are engendered. But be meek, since the meek shall inherit the earth. (Mt 5:5) Be long-suffering and pitiful and guileless and gentle and good and always trembling at the words which you have heard. You shall not exalt yourself, (Lk 18:14) nor give over-confidence to your soul. Your soul shall not be joined with lofty ones, but with just and lowly ones shall it have its intercourse. The workings that befall you receive as good, knowing that apart from God nothing comes to pass. 

Ch. 4. Various Precepts

My child, him that speaks to you the word of God remember night and day; and you shall honour him as the Lord; for in the place whence lordly rule is uttered, there is the Lord. And you shall seek out day by day the faces of the saints, in order that you may rest upon their words. You shall not long for division, but shall bring those who contend to peace. You shall judge righteously, you shall not respect persons in reproving for transgressions. You shall not be undecided whether it shall be or no. Be not a stretcher forth of the hands to receive and a drawer of them back to give. If you have anything, through your hands you shall give ransom for your sins. You shall not hesitate to give, nor murmur when you give; for you shall know who is the good repayer of the hire. You shall not turn away from him that is in want, but you shall share all things with your brother, and shall not say that they are your own; for if you are partakers in that which is immortal, how much more in things which are mortal? You shall not remove your hand from your son or from your daughter, but from their youth shall teach them the fear of God. (Eph 6:4) You shall not enjoin anything in your bitterness upon your bondman or maidservant, who hope in the same God, lest ever they shall fear not God who is over both; (Eph 6:9; Col 4:1) for he comes not to call according to the outward appearance, but unto them whom the Spirit has prepared. And you bondmen shall be subject to your masters as to a type of God, in modesty and fear. (Eph 6:5; Col 3:22) You shall hate all hypocrisy and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord. Forsake in no way the commandments of the Lord; but you shall keep what you have received, neither adding thereto nor taking away therefrom . (Dt 12:32) In the church you shall acknowledge your transgressions, and you shall not come near for your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. 

Ch. 5. The Way of Death

And the way of death is this: First of all it is evil and full of curse: murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rapines, false witnessings, hypocrisies, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving a lie, not knowing a reward for righteousness, not cleaving to good nor to righteous judgment, watching not for that which is good, but for that which is evil; from whom meekness and endurance are far, loving vanities, pursuing requital, not pitying a poor man, not labouring for the afflicted, not knowing Him that made them, murderers of children, destroyers of the handiwork of God, turning away from him that is in want, afflicting him that is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, utter sinners. Be delivered, children, from all these. 

Ch. 6. Against False Teachers, and Food Offered to Idols

See that no one cause you to err from this way of the Teaching, since apart from God it teaches you. For if you are able to bear all the yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able, what you are able that do. And concerning food, bear what you are able; but against that which is sacrificed to idols be exceedingly on your guard; for it is the service of dead gods. 

Ch. 7. Concerning Baptism

And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, (Mt 28:19) in living water. But if you have not living water, baptize into other water; and if you can not in cold, in warm. But if you have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whatever others can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before. 

Ch. 8. Concerning Fasting and Prayer (the Lord's Prayer)

But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites; (Mt 6:16) for they fast on the second and fifth day of the week; but fast on the fourth day and the Preparation (Friday). Neither pray as the hypocrites; but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, thus pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or, evil); for Yours is the power and the glory for ever. Thrice in the day thus pray. 

Ch. 9. The Thanksgiving (Eucharist)

Now concerning the Thanksgiving (Eucharist), thus give thanks. First, concerning the cup: We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David Your servant, which You made known to us through Jesus Your Servant; to You be the glory for ever. And concerning the broken bread: We thank You, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You made known to us through Jesus Your Servant; to You be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Your kingdom; for Yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever. But let no one eat or drink of your Thanksgiving (Eucharist), but they who have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, Give not that which is holy to the dogs. (Mt 7:6) 

Ch. 10. Prayer After Communion

But after you are filled, thus give thanks: We thank You, holy Father, for Your holy name which You caused to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality, which You made known to us through Jesus Your Servant; to You be the glory for ever. You, Master almighty, created all things for Your name's sake; You gave food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to You; but to us You freely gave spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Your Servant. Before all things we thank You that You are mighty; to You be the glory for ever. Remember, Lord, Your Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in Your love, and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for Your kingdom which You have prepared for it; for Yours is the power and the glory for ever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the God (Son) of David! If any one is holy, let him come; if any one is not so, let him repent. Maran atha. Amen. But permit the prophets to make Thanksgiving as much as they desire. 

Ch. 11. Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and Prophets

Whosoever, therefore, comes and teaches you all these things that have been said before, receive him. But if the teacher himself turn and teach another doctrine to the destruction of this, hear him not; but if he teach so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord. But concerning the apostles and prophets, according to the decree of the Gospel, thus do. Let every apostle that comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain except one day; but if there be need, also the next; but if he remain three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges; but if he ask money, he is a false prophet. And every prophet that speaks in the Spirit you shall neither try nor judge; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven. But not every one that speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; but only if he hold the ways of the Lord. Therefore from their ways shall the false prophet and the prophet be known. And every prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit eats not from it, except indeed he be a false prophet; and every prophet who teaches the truth, if he do not what he teaches, is a false prophet. And every prophet, proved true, working unto the mystery of the Church in the world, yet not teaching others to do what he himself does, shall not be judged among you, for with God he has his judgment; for so did also the ancient prophets. But whoever says in the Spirit, Give me money, or something else, you shall not listen to him; but if he says to you to give for others' sake who are in need, let no one judge him.

Ch. 12. Reception of Christians

But let every one that comes in the name of the Lord be received, and afterward you shall prove and know him; for you shall have understanding right and left. If he who comes is a wayfarer, assist him as far as you are able; but he shall not remain with you, except for two or three days, if need be. But if he wills to abide with you, being an artisan, let him work and eat; (2 Thes 3:10) but if he has no trade, according to your understanding see to it that, as a Christian, he shall not live with you idle. But if he wills not to do, he is a Christ-monger. Watch that you keep aloof from such.

Ch. 13. Support of Prophets

But every true prophet that wills to abide among you is worthy of his support. So also a true teacher is himself worthy, as the workman, of his support. (Mt 10:10; cf. Lk 10:7) Every first-fruit, therefore, of the products of wine-press and threshing-floor, of oxen and of sheep, you shall take and give to the prophets, for they are your high priests. But if you have not a prophet, give it to the poor. If you make a batch of dough, take the first-fruit and give according to the commandment. So also when you open a jar of wine or of oil, take the first-fruit and give it to the prophets; and of money (silver) and clothing and every possession, take the first-fruit, as it may seem good to you, and give according to the commandment.

Ch. 14. Christian Assembly on the Lord's Day

But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations. 

Ch. 15. Bishops and Deacons; Christian Reproof

Therefore, appoint for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, and not lovers of money, (1 Tm 3:4) and truthful and proven; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. Despise them not therefore, for they are your honoured ones, together with the prophets and teachers. And reprove one another, not in anger, but in peace, as you have it in the Gospel; (Mt 18:15-17) but to every one that acts amiss against another, let no one speak, nor let him hear anything from you until he repents. But your prayers and alms and all your deeds so do, as you have it in the Gospel of our Lord. 

Ch. 16. Watchfulness; The Coming of the Lord

Watch for your life's sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord comes. (Mt 24:42) But often shall you come together, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you be not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; (Mt 24:11-12) for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, (Mt 24:10) and then shall appear the world-deceiver as the Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but they that endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth; first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven; then the sign of the sound of the trumpet; and the third, the resurrection of the dead; yet not of all, but as it is said: The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him. Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven. 

Source: Adapted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.)

Read about The Didache

Friday, January 17, 2014

"The Scriptures that are now called canonical"

"I HAVE learned to hold those books alone of the Scriptures that are now called canonical in such reverence and honor that I do firmly believe that none of their authors has erred in anything that he has written therein.  If I find anything in those writings which seems to be contradictory to the truth, I presume that either the codex is inaccurate, or the translator has not followed what was said, or I have not properly understood it . . . .  I think that you dear brother, must feel the same way.  And I say, moreover, that I do not think you would want your books to be read as if they were books of Prophets or Apostles, about whose writings, free of all error, it is not lawful to doubt.  Let us not even think such a thing, in view of your great humility and your true opinion of yourself."

~St. Augustine: From Letter to Jerome (A.D. 405), 82, 1, 3. 
(A reply to Letters 72, 75 and 81)

Decree of the Council of Rome (AD 382) on the Canon of Scripture during the reign of Pope Damasus I (AD 366-384):

“Likewise it has been said: Now indeed we must treat of the divine Scriptures, what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she ought to shun. The order of the Old Testament begins here: Genesis one book, Exodus one book, Leviticus one book, Numbers one book, Deuteronomy one book, Josue Nave one book, Judges one book, Ruth one book, Kings four books, Paralipomenon [i.e. Chronicles] two books, Psalms one book, Solomon three books, Proverbs one book, Ecclesiastes one book, Canticle of Canticles one book, likewise Wisdom one book, Ecclesiasticus [i.e. Sirach] one book.

"Likewise the order of the Prophets. Isaias one book, Jeremias one book, with Ginoth, that is, with his Lamentations, Ezechiel one book, Daniel one book, Osee one book, Micheas one book, Joel one book, Abdias one book, Jonas one book, Nahum one book, Habacuc one book, Sophonias one book, Aggeus one book, Zacharias one book, Malachias one book. Likewise the order of the histories. Job one book, Tobias one book, Esdras two books [i.e. Ezra & Nehemiah], Esther one book, Judith one book, Machabees two books.

"Likewise the order of the writings of the New and Eternal Testament, which only the holy and Catholic Church supports. Of the Gospels, according to Matthew one book, according to Mark one book, according to Luke one book, according to John one book.

"The Epistles of Paul the Apostle in number fourteen. To the Romans one, to the Corinthians two, to the Ephesians one, to the Thessalonians two, to the Galatians one, to the Philippians one, to the Colossians one, to Timothy two, to Titus one, to Philemon one, to the Hebrews one.

"Likewise the Apocalypse of John, one book. And the Acts of the Apostles one book. Likewise the canonical epistles in number seven. Of Peter the Apostle two epistles, of James the Apostle one epistle, of John the Apostle one epistle, of another John, the presbyter, two epistles, of Jude the Zealut, the Apostle one epistle.” 

Monday, January 13, 2014

St. Hilary of Poitiers: A Prayer

"I KNOW, O Lord God Almighty, that I owe You, as the chief duty of my life, the devotion of all my words and thoughts to Yourself. The gift of speech which You have bestowed can bring me no higher reward than the opportunity of service in preaching You and displaying You as You are, as Father and Father of God the Only-begotten, to the world in its blindness and the heretic in his rebellion. But this is the mere expression of my own desire; I must pray also for the gift of Your help and compassion, that the breath of Your Spirit may fill the sails of faith and confession which I have spread, and a favouring wind be sent to forward me on my voyage of instruction. We can trust the promise of Him Who said, "Ask, and it shall be given you, seek, and you shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Lk 11:9); and we in our want shall pray for the things we need. We shall bring an untiring energy to the study of Your Prophets and Apostles, and we shall knock for entrance at every gate of hidden knowledge, but it is Yours to answer the prayer, to grant the thing we seek, to open the door on which we beat. Our minds are born with dull and clouded vision, our feeble intellect is penned within the barriers of an impassable ignorance concerning things Divine; but the study of Your revelation elevates our soul to the comprehension of sacred truth, and submission to the faith is the path to a certainty beyond the reach of unassisted reason.

"And therefore we look to Your support for the first trembling steps of this undertaking, to Your aid that it may gain strength and prosper. We look to You to give us the fellowship of that Spirit Who guided the Prophets and the Apostles, that we may take their words in the sense in which they spoke and assign its right shade of meaning to every utterance. For we shall speak of things which they preached in a mystery; of You, O God Eternal, Father of the Eternal and Only-begotten God, Who alone art without birth, and of the One Lord Jesus Christ, born of You from everlasting. We may not sever Him from You, or make Him one of a plurality of Gods, on any plea of difference of nature. We may not say that He is not begotten of You, because You are One. We must not fail to confess Him as true God, seeing that He is born of You, true God, His Father. Grant us, therefore, precision of language, soundness of argument, grace of style, loyalty to truth. Enable us to utter the things that we believe, that so we may confess, as Prophets and Apostles have taught us, You, One God our Father, and One Lord Jesus Christ, and put to silence the gainsaying of heretics, proclaiming You as God, yet not solitary, and Him as God, in no unreal sense."

~St. Hilary of Poitiers: On the Trinity, 1:37-38.

St. Hilary of Poitiers (c. 300 – c. 368), an early Church Father, was one of the greatest theologians during a very troubled period of the Church. St. Hilary defended the divinity of Christ and strongly opposed the Arian heresy. He was ordained Bishop of Poitiers in Roman Gaul and was known as a brilliant scholar with a humble gentleness. St. Hilary created the first hymns used by the Church in the West; introduced Eastern theology to the Western Church, and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1851 by Pope Pius IX. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

St. Gregory Nazianzen: Baptism of the Lord

"But John baptizes, Jesus comes to Him (Mt 3:14) ...perhaps to sanctify the Baptist himself, but certainly to bury the whole of the old Adam in the water; and before this and for the sake of this, to sanctify Jordan; for as He is Spirit and Flesh, so He consecrates us by Spirit and water. (Jn 5:35) John will not receive Him; Jesus contends. “I have need to be baptized by You” (Mt 3:17) says the Voice to the Word, the Friend to the Bridegroom; (Jn 3:39) he that is above all among them that are born of women, (Mt 11:11) to Him Who is the Firstborn of every creature; (Col 1:5) he that leaped in the womb, (Lk 1:41) to Him Who was adored in the womb; he who was and is to be the Forerunner  to Him Who was and is to be manifested. “I have need to be baptized by You;” add to this “and for You;” for he knew that he would be baptized by Martyrdom, or, like Peter, that he would be cleansed not only as to his feet. (Jn 13:9) “And You come to me?” This also was prophetic; for he knew that after Herod would come the madness of Pilate, and so that when he had gone before Christ would follow him. But what says Jesus? “Allow it to be so now,” for this is the time of His Incarnation; for He knew that yet a little while and He should baptize the Baptist. And what is the “Fan?” The Purification. And what is the “Fire?” The consuming of the chaff, and the heat of the Spirit. And what the “Axe?” The excision of the soul which is incurable even after the dung. (Lk 13:8) And what the Sword? The cutting of the Word, which separates the worse from the better, (Heb 4:12) and makes a division between the faithful and the unbeliever; (Mt 10:35) and stirs up the son and the daughter and the bride against the father and the mother and the mother in law, (Mi 7:6) the young and fresh against the old and shadowy. And what is the Latchet of the shoe, which thou John who baptizest Jesus may not loose? (Jn 1:27) thou who art of the desert, and hast no food, the new Elias, (Lk 7:26) the more than Prophet, inasmuch as you saw Him of Whom you prophesied, thou Mediator of the Old and New Testaments. What is this? Perhaps the Message of the Advent, and the Incarnation, of which not the least point may be loosed, I say not by those  who are yet carnal and babes in Christ, but not even by those who are like John in spirit.

"But further— Jesus goes up out of the water...for with Himself He carries up the world...and sees the heaven opened which Adam had shut against himself and all his posterity, (Gn 3:24) as the gates of Paradise by the flaming sword. And the Spirit bears witness to His Godhead, for he descends upon One that is like Him, as does the Voice from Heaven (for He to Whom the witness is borne came from thence), and like a Dove, for He honours the Body (for this also was God, through its union with God) by being seen in a bodily form..." 

~St. Gregory Nazianzen: Oration on the Holy Lights, (Oration 39:15-16).

The Baptism of Christ, by Annibale Carracci.
Oil on canvas, 1584; San Gregorio, Bologna.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

St. Augustine: "Neither do the heretics belong to the Church catholic"

"INASMUCH, I repeat, as this is the case, we believe also in The Holy Church, [intending thereby] assuredly the catholic. For both heretics and schismatics style their congregations churches. But heretics, in holding false opinions regarding God, do injury to the faith itself; while schismatics, on the other hand, in wicked separations break off from brotherly charity, although they may believe just what we believe. Wherefore neither do the heretics belong to the Church catholic, which loves God; nor do the schismatics form a part of the same, inasmuch as it loves the neighbor, and consequently readily forgives the neighbor’s sins, because it prays that forgiveness may be extended to itself by Him who has reconciled us to Himself, doing away with all past things, and calling us to a new life. And until we reach the perfection of this new life, we cannot be without sins. Nevertheless it is a matter of consequence of what sort those sins may be."

~St. Augustine: Treatise on Faith and the Creed (De Fide et Symbolo), 21 (Ch. 10).

St. Gregory I: "We find nine Orders of Angels"

“WE KNOW on the authority of Scripture that there are nine orders of angels, viz., Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Throne, Cherubim and Seraphim. That there are Angels and Archangels nearly every page of the Bible tell us, and the books of the Prophets talk of Cherubim and Seraphim. St. Paul, too, writing to the Ephesians enumerates four orders when he says: 'above all Principality, and Power, and Virtue, and Domination'; and again, writing to the Colossians he says: 'whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers'. If we now join these two lists together we have five Orders, and adding Angels and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, we find nine Orders of Angels.”

~Pope St. Gregory I ("the Great"): Homilies, 34.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

St. Cyprian: "Who has not the Church for mother..."

“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 Church 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 the father.”

St. Cyprian (c. 200 – 258), bishop of Carthage: On the Unity of the Catholic Church, 10.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

St. Ignatius: "Heresy"

"I THEREFORE, yet not I, but the love of Jesus Christ, entreat you that you use Christian nourishment only, and abstain from herbage of a different kind; I mean heresy. For those [that are given to this] mix up Jesus Christ with their own poison, speaking things which are unworthy of credit, like those who administer a deadly drug in sweet wine, which he who is ignorant of does greedily take, with a fatal pleasure leading to his own death."

St. Ignatius of Antioch: Epistle to the Trallians, 6.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

St. Leo the Great: "The Saviour of the world first appeared to the nations"

"THE day, dearly-beloved, on which Christ must be venerated by us with holy worship: and today those joys must be entertained in our hearts which existed in the breasts of the three magi, when, aroused by the sign and leading of a new star, which they believed to have been promised, they fell down in presence of the King of heaven and earth. For that day has not so passed away that the mighty work, which was then revealed, has passed away with it, and that nothing but the report of the thing has come down to us for faith to receive and memory to celebrate; seeing that, by the oft-repeated gift of God, our times daily enjoy the fruit of what the first age possessed."

~St. Leo the Great (c. 395-461): Sermon 36; On the Feast of the Epiphany, 36:1.

Adoration of the Magi, by Altichiero da Zevio.
Fresco, 1378-84; Oratorio di San Giorgio, Padua.

St. Jerome: "Know your own ignorance"

"IT is no small gain to know your own ignorance. It is a man's wisdom to know his own measure, that he may not be led away at the instigation of the devil to make the whole world a witness of his incapacity."

~St. Jerome: Letters, 61:3 (To Vigilantius).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church

St. Basil the Great: Bishop of Caesarea, and one of the most distinguished Doctors of the Church. Born probably 329; died 1 January, 379. He ranks after Athanasius as a defender of the Oriental Church against the heresies of the fourth century. With his friend Gregory of Nazianzus and his brother Gregory of Nyssa, he makes up the trio known as "The Three Cappadocians".

"BASIL convinces us that since we are human beings, we must neither despise men nor offend Christ, the common Head of all, with our inhuman behaviour towards people; rather, we ourselves must benefit by learning from the misfortunes of others and must lend God our compassion, for we are in need of mercy"
~Gregory Nazianzus, Orationes 43, 63.

St. Basil the Great, Catholic Ency. article
St. Basil by Rev. Alban Butler

Saint Basil (1) by Benedict XVI
Saint Basil (2) by Benedict XVI

St. Gregory of Nazianzus: Born into a noble family in about 330 A.D. and his mother consecrated him to God at birth. After his education at home, he attended the most famous schools of his time: he first went to Caesarea in Cappadocia, where he made friends with Basil, the future Bishop of that city, and went on to stay in other capitals of the ancient world, such as Alexandria, Egypt and in particular Athens, where once again he met Basil (cf. Orationes 43: 14-24).

"LET us seek to be like Christ, because Christ also became like us: to become gods through him since he himself, through us, became a man. He took the worst upon himself to make us a gift of the best." ~Gregory Nazianzus, Orationes 1, 5.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Catholic Ency. article
St. Gregory Nazianzen by Alban Butler
Saint Gregory Nazianzus (1) by Benedict XVI
Saint Gregory Nazianzus (2) by Benedict XVI

Icon of St. Basil the Great
from the St. Sophia Cathedral of Kiev

 Icon of St. Gregory "the Theologian"
Fresco from Kariye Camii, Istanbul, Turkey

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"Immaculate 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 true Christ, my God and 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. Ephraem of Syria (c. 306 – 373): Prayer to the Most Holy Mother of God.

Southwestern entrance mosaic of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, depicting both Hagia Sophia itself and Constantinople, both offered to Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

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